The Happy Engineer Podcast

027: From Ballet to Blockchain: Find Your Ideal Career Path with Matt Sevey

How many engineers entered the profession because a high school guidance counselor said you’re good at math and science? Can you remember the moment engineering became more than a textbook for you? How does a mechanical engineer go on to become a software development leader in a hot new startup?

In this episode, you are going to see the blueprint Matt Sevey followed from karate, to ballet dancing, to mechanical engineering, and finally to coding and the technology startup world. Yes, you read that right… ballet dancing.

Matt currently leads the software development team at Skynet Labs, focused on building uncompromising blockchain infrastructure for the decentralized internet.  In a blockchain industry filled with hype but lacking substance, Skynet Labs stands out as one of the few deeply technical teams that consistently delivers real products with significant potential.

You won’t believe the story of how it all started.  

If you have ever wondered if you are doing the right type of engineering, or are mentoring other engineers in building their ideal career path, this conversation is exactly what you need.

So press play and let’s chat… it’s time for your own engineering career bootcamp!


The Happy Engineer Podcast




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First, networking. “Informational interviews”. That’s a great phrase. It’s a really nice way to think about what exactly it is that we’re doing here. We’re simply connecting with new people to ask questions, to get information. No expectations, no requirements, simply a conversation. Knowing who you want to target – what kinds of people, with what kinds of experiences, in what kinds of organizations, and at what level. Just make those quick decisions and then go to LinkedIn, find these individuals and reach out and send them a connection request.

And in there, put in a very simple template message that authentically states: “I’m looking to create some new results in my career, and I’m really impressed by what I see on your profile. I’d love the opportunity just to ask you a few questions and get to know how you created these results in your career and in your life. Would you be open to a connection?”

When you get a conversation set up with these people, I loved what Matt shared. I want to give you again a quick and easy blueprint for how to make this a really low pressure, easy conversation. A lot of engineers overthink this and these people skills and networking are essential in building your career.

So here’s what I want you to do… If you don’t have your own agenda or plan for the conversation in mind, here is a simple default. You can always go “Hey, so-and-so I really appreciate you taking time to chat with me today. This means a lot. I know how valuable your time is. So just thank you again for doing this. And what would mean a lot to me is if you would just tell me, how did you get to where you’re at? What was that path like for you, any of the really important highlights along the way. And if you just share your story with me, that would be amazing. I’ll just stop you or ask questions along the way if that sounds good?”

This simple intro opens the door for them to direct the conversation and tell their story, however they want to. Then all you have to do is listen to them, just listen. It’s not that hard. Listen to what they’re saying. And as soon as something interests you, as soon as something peaks your curiosity, then ask them about it! Say, “Oh wow, that’s actually really interesting. Can you tell me more about that?” or, “Hey, what was that like for you?” Anything that probes a little bit deeper around what catches your attention.

And if they stopped talking and the time’s not up, then just ask them another question, you know, tell me more about your company. Then tell me more about ________. Have two or three other topics that you could introduce if you need to on your notes, if you’re at all concerned. But here’s what I want to reiterate what Matt said in our conversation and he’s absolutely right. People love talking about themselves. So just get them talking and probe and be curious and just show that authentic curiosity. It’s going to be easy. 

One more tip for finishing this conversation, we always wrap it up with these two things. First, an open invitation to connect in the future. And second, a request for anyone else who you might want to network with. 

So here’s how that would look: “Hey so-and-so, again, I really appreciate your time today. Thanks a lot for giving me so much insight and sharing your story with me. Would it be okay with you if I reach back out again sometime in the future, if I have any further questions or just want to follow up on anything that you shared with me?”

We’re looking for that “Yes”. I can tell you in my entire life I have had zero people say no to that. So ask that question and the reason why we ask it is because now if you do go back to that person and ask for more time, the likelihood of them responding and saying yes is much, much higher if they’ve already agreed in principle on this call to the idea of you reaching back out for another conversation.

So absolutely ask them and then question number two – “Hey, and before I let you go, just based on what you’ve shared, in your experience, I’m wondering if there’s anybody else that you know, who has a similar experience to you, or maybe would have a different perspective on these same topics who you think I would really benefit from connecting with?”

We’re going to ask them who else in their network you need to know. This is a really important question, and it’s a way to multiply your networking so quickly because if they share with you two or three names of other people who you can connect with, and then those leaders share with you two or three names, you can see how quickly the web grows.

If they say nobody, no problem. You can always come back later on LinkedIn looking for who they are connected to and shoot them a message and say, “Hey, I was curious, I noticed you’re connected to so-and-so. Do you think they might have a good perspective on the things we talked about?” And you can come back and ask the question again that way.

I hope that helps you to take some of the mystery out of these coffee chats and make it really simple and tactical how to expand the value of this part of your career. Let’s talk about balance for just one minute, and then I know you’re ready to go take action on what we’ve talked about today.

Balance is so interesting because everybody is seeking it. Everybody’s trying to find it, but nobody seems to have it. And the first thing I want you to realize is that balance is not something that you find and then keep. Balance is something that is an active value. You are always continuously counter balancing and finding balance.

As soon as you’re there at a point of balance, you’re already, immediately starting to tip out of balance in another direction. It’s just like being on a tightrope. If you’ve ever seen somebody do the high wire and they’re up there above the ground, balancing on this thin wire, they’re constantly adjusting left, right, left, right, counterbalancing and staying in that center point.

You don’t simply find the center point and stay there. With that said, the key thing that came up in this conversation, I want you to take away is an awareness that being out of balance is a feeling that is generated inside of us. When we do not have the energy for the things we desire. Now there’s a lot more to that story, and this is what I work with, my engineering leaders and clients on really helping them to create a transformed life. This is what lifestyle engineering is all about, but one nugget for you on energy, you can help to manage your energy around the different areas of your life in two simple ways. The order that you calendar it, and when you do it within the day.

 Let me address these two really fast. First, the order you calendar it, it may seem really trivial, but if there’s an area of your life where you feel out of balance, let’s take exercise. It’s an example that comes up all the time. You’re out of balance because you’re not taking care of your body.

Well, if exercise is the last thing that you put on your calendar, That is a reflection of your subconscious prioritization. I should say, deprioritization of that in your life. But if you go to your calendar next week and block time for exercise first, that sends a subconscious signal of priority that’s going to increase the amount of energy that you put into that. 

It does matter how you prioritize. The things that are first in importance are reflected as going first onto your calendar. And we live in a world that is driven by that calendar right now. So I want you to recognize that the things that you’re just trying to squeeze into the free spaces on your calendar, you have already communicated the low priority of those things. 

So if you need to get back in balance, calendar those things first. But then secondly, notice that when you do it makes a difference because of the energy available at those times. You need to know your own rhythms, your own energy and how it flows throughout the day and the week.

But in general, let’s all be honest at the very end of the day, you have the least amount of energy. So if you’re seeking to get back into balance in your life, by putting these priorities at the very end of your day, everyday, you have really created a challenging uphill climb because that’s the time when you have the least energy to dedicate to it.

I know it’s not always practical to move these things to the beginning of your day, but get creative. Can you integrate these priorities into your morning routine? Can you take a one hour break during your work day? When you have more energy to pour into a key relationship to pour into your health and fitness?

These are the kinds of decisions that most successful leaders on the planet make every single day. And these are the kind of changes you need to make if you want to create the career and life of your dreams. If you need more help with this, reach out and book a call with me and the team at OACO, we can help you.

I’d love to be a part of that, but in the meantime, go take action. Don’t let this be information only. Matt and I have organized it for you. We’ve given you some things you can do right now. So go get after it. I love you. Talk to you soon.

Previous Episode 26: Escape the Sunday Scaries with Camille Saltzman




Matthew Sevey is a career coach who helps aspiring techies fast-track their coding careers. After successfully navigating his own career change into software engineering, Matthew was able to nearly double his pre-transition salary and get promoted 4 times in less than 4 years. When he isn’t helping others fast-track their careers, he enjoys exploring with his wife and pup in their self-converted camper van.

Matt currently leads the software development team at Skynet Labs, focused on building uncompromising blockchain infrastructure for the decentralized internet.  In a blockchain industry filled with hype but lacking substance, Skynet Labs stands out as one of the few deeply technical teams that consistently delivers real products with significant potential.

Ever since he wrote his first line of code, he was hooked. Learning new technologies and understanding what makes things work continues to excite him. Matt has a passion for leading teams and helping individuals develop and grow throughout their careers.

Now as a coach in his own company, My Code Career, Matt continues to enjoy engaging with students looking to start their career, or with lifelong learners looking to make a career shift.





Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: Happy engineer, welcome back for another amazing conversation. 

[00:00:04] I know you’re going to love this. I’m with Matt Sevey. He is an engineering manager. He’s got an incredible background. And he’s a client of mine right now. So he may be able to reveal more of the inside story about Zach White and OACO, but I’m just pumped for where we can go today.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:20] Matt. Thanks for making it. To share who you are with me and the amazing engineering leaders who are out there listening. 

[00:00:29] Matt Sevey: Yeah, thanks. Happy to be here. 

[00:00:32] Zach White: So I’ll confess really quick for everybody. I mispronounced Matt’s name and we had to do two takes of this intro what you would think. I couldn’t make that mistake, but here we go, Matt, I want to start at a really cool point.

[00:00:45] there’s a point that you described before we started recording today in your career, where there was a shift in your mindset that has shaped who you are and where you’re going. Can you just take us back a little bit of your story and what led up to that moment and describe that shift for us?

[00:01:02] Matt Sevey: my journey into engineering’s probably very relatable, started out as a TaeKwonDo instructor and then a ballet dancer and then found engineering. It’s a very, very common, common path. No. So, I think, growing up I did a lot of outside things, you know, very big into the outdoors.

[00:01:20] My family had done karate for a number of years, got into ballet, and danced in high school. And when I had then gone to college, I kind of picked engineering because my guidance counselor told me I was good at math and sciences and kind of gave me a pamphlet like here’s engineering. I was like, it seems interesting.

[00:01:42] Went to a summer camp, got a scholarship from that. So I just chose engineering, it made sense and I went to a college that was near my hometown, so I could keep doing those things that I’d always been doing in terms of teaching karate and dance and ballet and all that kind of outdoor recreation that I did.

[00:01:58] So you know, your program is kind of like lifestyle engineering. Like I, I had the lifestyle like down pat, was like kind of doing my lifestyle and then like started doing this engineering 

[00:02:06] Zach White: thing. This is interesting. So hold on, hold on. I think most people, myself included, assumed you were totally joking at the beginning of this, when you said TaeKwonDo and ballet and like, okay.

[00:02:17] Ha ha. But you’re serious and oh yeah. And you’re unique in the sense. A lot of us have the story of, Hey, you’re good at math and science, you should be in a. A lot of us have that, but most of us who heard that we’re not also doing those things. So really interesting that you had both, I’m curious, like, why did your guidance counselor not say, Hey, Matt, you seem to love physical movement of the body and dance and martial arts and like go pursue muscle science or so like, how did that part.

[00:02:51] Ignored the recommendation to go pursue engineering or like, tell me what was happening in that recommendation, like what was going on there? 

[00:02:59] Matt Sevey: I didn’t one, didn’t have a great relationship with the guidance counselor. It wasn’t someone that I think had a super holistic view of who I was.

[00:03:09] And I think similar to, what I would call, you know, work-life balance now had kind of like school life balance back then in terms of like, all of those extracurriculars were very different from school. So like in school, there wasn’t a dance team or karate club or things like that.

[00:03:27] And so I think my school repertoire, or kinda like, my resume has this, No student didn’t show those things., And I think, the stuff that I was involved with, you know, I was in the band. I did like student council, class council, like those types of things.

[00:03:44], but like didn’t do that in a way that would’ve stood out to like, oh, 

[00:03:49] Zach White: Well, that makes sense. So you really were living into this lifestyle engineering concept at a very young age. And so were you excited about becoming an engineer or was it something that you had resistance to because you really thought you wanted to pursue dance or martial arts or something else?

[00:04:07] Matt Sevey: My viewpoint towards. Schooling and kind of education was when I looked at the engineering portfolio of different types of engineering, I chose mechanical engineering. I think largely one, because I had always liked using my hands. Like that was a little bit like a link towards my karate or dance.

[00:04:26] So I kind of like doing things like you know, physically, but also my guidance counselor had kind of made a point about like, Because I was looking at computer engineering or mechanical engineering, and. For those that know my current work history, computer engineering probably would have been the smart choice, but, there was like, uh, something that they said around, technology is moving so fast.

[00:04:46] Like if you do computer engineering, like you’re gonna always have to be staying up to date on the latest, like technology trends where like mechanical engineering, like older kind of like set in stone in terms of like the foundation of it. And I was like, oh, sweet. I can just like, get my mechanical engineering degree and then be done with school and done with learning and like, you know, I’ve done.

[00:05:02] I think that came from that separation of school to school. It’s something that I do. Like I, do very well at it, but there was nothing that was linking what I was learning in school to what I did in life or like what I was doing in my life, for example so I think that was, uh, a key point there, which then, but to some of my career changes, later 

[00:05:25] Zach White: on.

[00:05:26] Yeah. So, we teed this up by saying there was a major shift for you. keep us going in the story then what happened next? 

[00:05:33] Matt Sevey: I had that scholarship, which prompted me to apply to the school nearby, which applied, which then prompted I needed an internship, which I then got, and that internship turned into a job.

[00:05:43] And then all of a sudden, I didn’t have time for karate or dance or any of those things that I’m working full time. and I think it took a few years too, for that to catch up with me in terms of. kind of work being now, like the larger part of my life. So early on, it’s like right out of college. the first year out of college, Graduated new adult, freedom, like working like this is great.

[00:06:08] Right? So there’s that kind of like life excitement from that standpoint. And then that next year I actually got engaged. And so now we’re thinking about like getting married, and my wife was going to be going back to grad school, which involved a move. And so there’s all these other changes.

[00:06:23] And so then. A couple years later was when it really started hitting me in terms of, she was in grad school, pursuing what she wanted to be doing. And I was just kind of working and finally was faced with the decision of like, okay, what is your career look like?

[00:06:40] You don’t have these life things happening that are kind of driving your life., you’re just kinda. in it, it’s like, what does that look like? And that was when I got to realize that, like, what I was doing was not interesting. And so also. I did mechanical engineering and undergrad, but I never was a mechanical engineer.

[00:07:03] Like I went into manufacturing and like team management and project management. So I was never, I never even like, did true engineering. It was always just like the problem solving that engineering gives you. And I think that was then spun into me thinking like, well, what do I like doing?

[00:07:20]What am I interested in? Like, I went into mechanical engineering because I, like to use my hands, but I’ve never really used my hands from mechanical engineering, you know, like there was, um, and I think that was the piece in terms of, I never. Found that thing that allowed me to link what I was learning in mechanical engineering to like life.

[00:07:42], unlike some of my classmates that were in like the ASM me, formula one car group on campus they were taking their classes and then going and building a suspension system for this car on like after class and like on the weekends or, another group of kids that.

[00:07:58] Did a lot of my homework with like their senior capstone was like making a rocket, and like now they all work at like an aerospace, company, like, they, found that link between So what they were learning in their mechanical engineering classes and how to apply that to a real world job and like a real world problem.

[00:08:17] And I think that was, that was something that I, I think because I was so focused on. The life side of things early on. I never spent the time to figure out how to make that connection for myself. Um, 

[00:08:30] Zach White: So, this is a really huge point. Just to sit on that for a moment. I’ve seen so many young engineering professionals, you know, out of school, getting that first job who are suffering because of missing that link that you just described.

[00:08:44] You know, it never happened in college and they have all the education, but not any real connection to why. Everything. I just learned matters in life in a way that I can get personally lit up about get excited about. And when was the point that you actually recognize that that’s what was missing? You know, like it’s easy to maybe reflect back on and say, oh, if only that had happened, it would have been great.

[00:09:11] But where in the actual experience did Matt come into awareness? Like, I know all the stuff in my head, but none of this is connecting for me. In life doing the work. 

[00:09:23] Matt Sevey: Yeah, I think it happened when. So what I started to learn and like self teach myself software engineering and kind of web development. And like, I came at it from the approach of like, how do I immediately start using this in real life?

[00:09:35] And so like, how do I build a website and then see the web. Cool. And then it kind of like starting there and then working backwards to like, okay, like, how does, like, how does a programming language work? Like, what is like, what is binary? What is, you know, what are all these data types and things like that.

[00:09:47] And so then to be able to see, see that link between the, you know, really the computer engineering side of things and the computer science side of things, and then what you can actually build and how do you, how do you apply that? I think. Once I started doing that and seeing that and really enjoying that was when I realized that that was what I was missing previously.

[00:10:05] Um, so it wasn’t, it wasn’t that I recognized that and then made a choice. It was like, I just like, started doing this new thing and then like, it clicked with me then I, that was, that was kinda like why I did that. Um, 

[00:10:15] Zach White: what was it that first push. To want to learn how to build a website and actually get back into that computer engineering.

[00:10:22] I mean, okay. For the computer engineers, my apologies. I’m not saying building a website is computer engineering, but you get my point. Like where did that actually come back to life for you? What prompted that?

[00:10:32] Matt Sevey: So when my wife went back, so I went to school in Maine and that was where I met my, wife got my first job. And when she went back to school, it was in the Boston area. And so we had moved down to Boston, just got exposed to the tech scene, had people that were software developers were web developers, like saw what they’re working on.

[00:10:47] Um, also had like knew some friends that were, you know, very entrepreneurial in terms of like starting, trying to like start their own business, start their own apps and like seeing. And like, some of them had, had done that in terms of like, they went to school for like business or economics and now we’re software developers.

[00:11:02] And so I think I had, was exposed to that as an option. And then, you know, talking to a friend being like, wouldn’t this be a cool thing to build? And then we were like, neither of us had ever written a single line of code. So like, let’s, I don’t know, like let’s like take a class and like, just like use that as like a fun way to learn this thing.

[00:11:21] Um, and I think it was initially just. When I first started learning and it was more just from a standpoint of like, you know, testing something new, like this is a cool idea. Like fun thing to work with a friend. I didn’t even like necessarily consider it at that point as a career change. Um, and it wasn’t until like two and a half years later that I kind of like got to the point where.

[00:11:36] I could probably be doing this instead of the job that I’m doing and Avalon. 

[00:11:41] Zach White: Wow. So, so then let’s, let’s get to that point. You’ve here, you’re on a self-discovery self-learning journey, tapping back into that part of you that almost went into computer engineering in the first place and really discovering your interest for it.

[00:11:55] Your capability is growing eventually. There’s this moment where you’re like, okay, I could do. What’s happening right there. Take us into the thought process and the decision and how your mindset changed at that time.

[00:12:09] Matt Sevey: at that point I’d been taking online classes, building little side projects and apps and things. You know, enjoying it, learning more. And it was getting to the point where I was spending, you know, 10, 15, 20 hours a week doing this outside of my job and kind of like, you know, and it was taking a second and reflecting and it’s like, I’m spending this much time doing it.

[00:12:34] Just like for fun, like. And I’m enjoying learning again. And I think that was like something to that was it it’s a switch for me and kind of ironic when I think back to like my thought, like how I was thinking as a high school or when my guidance counselor saying like, you’re always going to need to be learning.

[00:12:51] Um, and I think. That switch in terms of like, I am, I am unmotivated at work to learn new concepts, to get better at what I’m doing. Whereas this, I am extremely motivated to be learning new things in order to get better. And I think that was kind of the switch for me in terms of like, I, I, at work I’m like turning down promotions because I don’t want to do that type of work.

[00:13:12] And like here I’m investing, you know, just as much time outside trying to learn these skills to like, how do I. Switch this, like, how do I start doing what I’m doing outside of work as my job? And like, you know, make this, make this a thing, because so many people before me had already done it. 

[00:13:28] Zach White: Yeah. So tell us what you did.

[00:13:31] Matt Sevey: So I, went through a web development bootcamp, so like there’s, that was, you know, still very popular and at the time was very popular way to like transition. And I think I, uh, I have a. An interesting perspective, I think, on, on the value of web development boot. And I think for a lot of people it’s not worth it.

[00:13:48] And I think in, I think, I think actually in, uh, in, in a lot of the way it’s marketed, it’s not worth it because there’s, you know, I spent two and a half years. Going through courses, building things, kind of, self-doubt doing the self development stuff, like on my own, like at my own pace and kind of figuring out.

[00:14:02] And then when I approached web development bootcamp, I, I purposely looked for the one that emphasized the career growth side of things the most, because they’re all a very short timeframe and it’s. Yeah, two months, three months, like, you know, highly intensive. I also found one that I could do part-time so I didn’t have to quit my job and like, have that additional stress of like now I’m like, you know, all like all the way in type of thing.

[00:14:25] Right. Um, and it’s like, cause like I only have a finite amount of time and I can’t do everything. So. I want to not have to worry about learning anything technical during this process so that I can focus exclusively on kind of like defining what my career is, because the like, for me, like that was like, like, if I’m going to take this time and do this investment, I want to make sure I find a job that I love.

[00:14:45] I don’t want, I don’t want to just switch and find the software version of what I’m doing right now. Um, I think a lot of the people that I went through that program with the ones that came in with like nothing. And we’re kind of expecting that experience, that web development, boot camps kind of like advertise in terms of, you know, three months, zero to full stack developer.

[00:15:07] Like they were disappointed, you know, because like, that’s just like not the case, you know? And I think, and if you talk to anyone that has like a higher. Someone out of one of those boot camps, it’s like you hire the people that, you know, are, have like shown a history of learning and like, and the ones that are successful are the ones that keep learning and like, understand that, like, this is just like a finite, like kickstart or like accelerator to what I’m learning.

[00:15:33]  Um, and so.

[00:15:33] Maybe that was a good place to stop. I didn’t, I don’t know where I was going after that. 

[00:15:33] Zach White: I think it’s just great. And, and honestly, so here you are, you’ve done the bootcamp and you’re making a total shift in your career trajectory at this moment. And, and we know the end of the story, right where you’re at now and the success you’ve had.

[00:15:45] And we can talk about that a little bit, but during that transition, Like tell us what was going on for you. I mean, was it, was that a simple thing? Was it really scary? Like just kind of take us into that whole world. A lot of people talk about this or dream about doing this and don’t do it because. It’s like, who knows what may happen if I walk away from my degree and all this experience and the big paycheck and whatever.

[00:16:09] So, so how was that experience for you and saying I’m going to stop doing mechanical engineering, which I was barely doing in the first place and go into this whole other path. 

[00:16:19] Matt Sevey: Yeah. I fortunately had a very supportive wife at the time, so that made things all much, much easier. Um, You know, she was going through grad or had just finished grad school at that point.

[00:16:30] And so, you know, that was another kind of reason for doing it part time to kind of not have that stressor and like pressure of like, I got a. I’m on a time clock. Like I’ve got this much in savings and like, if you know what happens when I hit at the end of it. And so I think approach it from the standpoint of like, what are going to, like, what do I know I’m going to stress about and then make me less effective and how do I mitigate that?

[00:16:54] Um, and so obviously having the support of my wife and having, you know, doing it in a part-time way, allowed me to. Mitigate those two stressors to then allow it to be the kind of exciting experience that it was. Um, and so, and I think also the bit I mentioned about. Having clear expectations about what my goals of that time were.

[00:17:17] So like not worrying, like I didn’t then have the additional stressor of like the technical piece. Like the stuff that we kind of went over in class was more of like a refresher of stuff that I had already done. Um, which was great. Like I got to, you know, I learned some things here and there because of questions that other people ask that I’d never would’ve thought to ask, which was great.

[00:17:31] And like that definitely learned some things there, but like the. You know, the stress that other people had about, like, I’m still trying to figure out what this thing called coding is, you know, that was also kind of removed. So it was kinda like managing what are all the things to kind of like manage to then allow me to focus on like, what was important to me, which was that career, uh, side of things.

[00:17:53] And so that allowed me to kind of basically spend the, you know, three months or so just doing. I think like 30 or 40 interviews, uh, informational interviews with, past the Geminis and like people in the space. So I kind of just like, You know, just hard hardcore networking in terms of like, you know, reaching out and just like talking to them about their experience and just trying to spend that time, trying to articulate what it was that I liked to do.

[00:18:16] And like what it was that I enjoyed about coding, what that might mean for a job or a type of. Uh, company or kind of different products and things like that. And so being able to have that time to just like, you know, no expectation of like trying to get a job at that point, just like I am just, again, trying to refine what my.

[00:18:36] Goal is here in terms of like, what is that job that I’m looking for? 

[00:18:39] Zach White: Yes. I love the phrase, informational interviews hardcore networking. And you’re kind of laying out a blueprint, you know, like how do you make these kinds of major career transitions from one discipline to another and how it worked for you?

[00:18:56] Was that an easy thing for you to do Matt or was that informational interviewing and hardcore networking, like really scary and totally new for you as an engineer? Like where did you land on that spectrum? 

[00:19:10] Matt Sevey: It was definitely a new thing for sure. Um, fortunately the program and it was, that was actually a piece of the program that I had seen that I.

[00:19:19] Knew it was going to be valuable to me. So they really pushed, you know, like reach out to our alumni network. Like they did this, they know to expect that like, people are gonna reach out, like just like asking, like they, you know, they call them coffee chats. Like, Hey, let me buy you a coffee, pick your brain about your experience and just kind of like, learn how to do that.

[00:19:35] So like lots of copies, a lot to be, um, you know, 

[00:19:42] Zach White: Does that mean? Just walk us through the mechanics we’re engineers, where, how, how things are done, kinds of people. So what is an informational interview or a coffee chat? What does it look like? How do you set it up? Like, what does that conversation just kind of tell us a couple of the mechanics.

[00:19:56] Cause I think that’s a really useful reminder that we all can be doing this with the network we have and expanding our network. So just kind of talk about like, how does Matt do a coffee chat? 

[00:20:10] Matt Sevey: So I had kind of a template outreach kind of message that I would send to people that, um, basically, you know, was like, Hey, like I’d love, you know, I saw this in your background.

[00:20:20] So whether it’s like, Hey, you’re your startup alumni? Or like, Hey, I saw that you’re working at this company. Um, you know, show that, you know, No, who they are. And then basically say like, you know, and then just kind of, you know, lay out, like, I’d love to talk to you about like your experience. Like I’m currently, you know, learning to code going through this program.

[00:20:36] You know, I’d love to hear your experience, love to kind of get your thoughts on, you know, X, Y, Z. It’s like, can we meet up for coffee or zoom or, you know, whatever. And so I think, you know, setting kind of setting the framework that like, You know, I’m just interested in talking to you. Like I’ve got no other alternative motive besides just like, you know, hearing your experience and like for the most people, most, for the most part, people love talking about themselves.

[00:21:02] Zach White: Is this a LinkedIn message or how are you connecting with people? 

[00:21:05] Matt Sevey: Yeah, I did the majority of it through LinkedIn. Um, and I think that’s a useful skill, I think for anyone. In their professional career. I think LinkedIn is definitely a network that has grown a lot in the recent years in terms of being more active.

[00:21:21] Um, you know, seven, eight years ago, it was more of like, here’s my online resume. And now it’s much more of a much more of a tool and like an ecosystem that people engage with and, uh, communicate through. So that, that, that is my. Preferred method at 

[00:21:37] Zach White: the moment. Sure. And so then here you are, whether it’s in real life for coffee or over zoom or a phone call and you sit down with this total stranger, what do you say 

[00:21:48] Matt Sevey: the yeah, first question is usually just like, now tell me about how you got here, you know, and I think, uh, there is, um, especially like the people that.

[00:21:57] I was talking to, I was talking to a lot of alumni of this program. And so they had a similar story to me, like they were doing something else and then like went through this program and learn how to code and like, what was like, what did they get out of it? What were their challenges, trying to find a job?

[00:22:13] Like, what did, like, how did that look for them? Like, what were like, what were some of the questions that they asked and then, you know, asking. through that process, you know, to like in retrospect, like what would you have done differently or what would you w what would you have done more of? Um, and a very common answer was I would have done more of these.

[00:22:28] And so, um, so that was encouraging them to be like, you know, it’s like, yeah, people see the value of these. And I think they’re happy to be a part of that and encourage people to, uh, you know, do them as well. 

[00:22:40] Zach White: So, My coaching program right now, as we’re recording this. And you know, one of the themes is about getting out of our comfort zone.

[00:22:49] And I can’t tell you how many people I’ve coached to something as simple as this coffee chat con. Is really uncomfortable sending a cold message on LinkedIn to a total stranger. People are really concerned about how they’re going to respond. If they do say yes to that zoom or real life coffee chat, then there’s a lot of anxiety about when we get on the call, like, what am I supposed to say?

[00:23:13] And then people get very concerned about it. Uh, emotionally for you. Can you describe maybe the difference between the first time you did it and how you feel about it now? 

[00:23:25] Matt Sevey: the first one was actually, uh, An acquaintance of someone that was going through the program, which she’s like, oh, you should talk to this person, like message them.

[00:23:32] And they’re like, they can meet you like tomorrow. And I was like, I’m not ready. So like that one, I was definitely like, where should I meet them? Should I meet them here? Like, I don’t know, you know, like, let me find, like, I can’t, you know, I got to find the right place and like, you know, it was just like, you know, totally overwhelming.

[00:23:45] And then the, and I don’t, I don’t even remember what we talked about. I think the. So I think that, but then it was done, like then I had done it and then it was, you know, I think the, um, I think it’s the same, same kind of idea of this, you know, like podcasts, like you have a general framework of like what to talk about, but like, you don’t know where it’s going to go.

[00:24:05] Like, you don’t know kinda like what avenues you’re gonna go. You go down. I think that’s the, something that. Helps me towards the end, in terms of like, you know, these are like the three questions I’m going to ask them, and then I’m just going to see how the conversation evolves, you know? And I think the, and having less and less and less expectations of like how it’s going to happen, I think also helps, um, just make me more relaxed.

[00:24:28] Like there’s, uh, you know, the other person more relaxed, like, you know, if I’m coming at them, but like 20, you know, 20 million questions in like 30 minutes and it’s like, wow, am I getting interviewed? Is this like, so. Yeah, I think just, with anything, you know, the more you do it to just get easier and easier.

[00:24:46] And I think also it helps you then start to see like what you’re getting out of it and like, what’s, you might want to change to be able to like, get the answers you’re looking for. Um, and I think something too, like having something kind of consistent throughout. So whether it’s, I’m always going to ask you to put three questions or I’m always going to try and.

[00:25:06] basically give like my elevator pitch, like, this is me, this is what I want. This is what I’m doing. And then see how that evolves over the course of time and see how that changes based on the feedback I get in those interviews. And how my assumptions are challenged in terms of, you know, I think this type of engineering is for me or this type of engineer is for me or this type of company.

[00:25:32] I don’t think I’d ever want to work for that type of company, because I think what they’re doing is, is weird. Um, and then someone’s like, well, actually it’s. A lot of this work, I’m like, oh, that actually 

[00:25:40] Zach White: sounds super cool. Yeah, totally. So Matt, you’ve been helping other people through these same kinds of transitions as you’ve laid out your own story, going from mechanical into software and coding.

[00:25:53] And tell me if you were going to look back and say, if there was one thing for Matt that you would do differently to either accelerate the outcome or get more value from that transition and the journey you took, what was.

[00:26:09] Matt Sevey: I think early on, I would have reached out to my network more. So I think before I went into the bootcamp, I think by the time I went to the bootcamp, Uh, spent enough time and like had like mentally, I was like, ready that I think, I, I think I did a pretty good job taking full advantage of that time, but I think the time kind of like when I took my first online course and build like my first website, it’s like starting the bootcamp.

[00:26:36] I think that is where, um, there was opportunity to kind of accelerate that and get more value out of that. Who knows. Maybe I could have done the transition without that bootcamp entirely. If I had used my network more. Um, and I think that is probably where for me, I’ve noticed I am much more comfortable, uh, engaging and questioning and reaching out to total strangers.

[00:27:03] Then, like my close network. And I think like, I, I have two pretty close friends that. Have all also did kind of some sort of like self coaching, like into their career. And I think I might’ve talked to each one of them once that was it. And I think that was from a place of like fear in terms of like, they’re already this thing.

[00:27:26] And like, I don’t want to, if I’m going to come to them with like questions or ants, like, you know, this thing, like I need to be ready. I need to be ready for that. Um, and I think that was definitely a limiting. Belief for me that I think delayed kind of that whole timeline for me. Um, so 

[00:27:43] Zach White: this point resonates for me, so deeply map because.

[00:27:47] The same could be said for my journey into leaving my career and starting my current business and the work I do in private equity and all of these things. I was waiting for a long time to be ready. And the people close to you are often the ones that we go to last, for whatever reason, that psychology of, like, I don’t want to ask for favors from those people, or I don’t want to be seen as fill in the blank and we sit around and wait.

[00:28:15] For everything else to fall into line before we take any action at all. So I’m encouraged by this because you’re basically saying, look, start where you’re at with what you’ve got and begin taking action right now. You know, that that is such a simple thing to say and a hard thing to do fast forward for us to today.

[00:28:36] So you made this transition completely. Shifted in your not only career trajectory, but also the role that it played in your life and how you connected those dots that weren’t connected in college are starting to connect for you now. So tell us about where you’re at today and how this has changed, you know, your vision for the future.

[00:28:56] Matt Sevey: So I think I am now in a place that’s like. The proportions have shifted in terms of, you know, where, where my focus has been. I think I started out from a place of like lifestyle engineering in terms of like a, the, the kind of extracurriculars where my focus and like that’s where I spent a lot of my time and school.

[00:29:16] And my career was something that I just kind of fit in and it was great and it was fine. Um, and I think the, uh, doing this career change got me into a career that I’m much more passionate or. And then it has additionally taken up more of my life. So, and so I think, and that has then got, uh, I think, uh, Brought me to, to you in terms of like, I think, cause now I’m now like how do I balance, like, you know, it was easy to balance a four because I just wasn’t as passionate about my career, but now I am very passionate about my career and like so much so that I’m also starting this coaching business to like help people do what I did because like I.

[00:29:52] Get energized every time I think about it. you know, I love working with people, you know, and seeing them make that change and seeing them take control of kind of like there for trajectory and like that’s super exciting. And that’s only going to take up more of my time, also struggling with them, you know, looking back at.

[00:30:09] As happy as I am about the choices I’ve made and kind of what, where I am now also realizing that it came at the cost of not doing those things as much as those other things, as much as I was, I hope I would have. Um, and so trying to find, okay, how do we. Rebalance things so that I can feel better spread out across all of my interests and all of my priorities and still feel like I am progressing in all of those at a rate that I am content with.

[00:30:40] Zach White: So this is really awesome because not a lot of people that I have coached or met have experienced deeply, both sides of the coin. One side, be. I’m very passionate about my extracurriculars, my hobbies, you know, something outside of my career and I’m working for the weekend. Like I just can’t wait to go do the thing that I love to do.

[00:31:03] That’s not work. And I work to live. You hear that a lot, you know, don’t live to work, work, to live and there’s those types of people. And then there’s the people I meet who are just right in the zone of their genius and passion with their career and their work. And they work all the time and they love it and they know exactly what that’s all about, but they really don’t have any connection deeply to recreation or hobbies or interests outside the office.

[00:31:28] And even though they love their work, sometimes it consumes them or they still burn out because they’re one dimensional in that way. And I see burnout on both sides of this, uh, and it has pros and cons on both sides of this. And you’ve now expanded. Both sides. What would you say then in the idea of balance, it’s such an important word, but also I’ll say poorly, poorly defined or everybody has their own understanding of what balance looks like.

[00:31:57] So what would you say you’ve learned from being on both sides about the idea of balanced, at least as how it’s important to you? 

[00:32:06] Matt Sevey: one of my early on managers, uh, in my first first career, um, kind of said something similar along the lines of like, you always have work-life balance working 90% of the time and sleeping 10% of the time.

[00:32:16] It’s still a hundred percent of your time. It’s still bad. And so the, uh, I think, um, that is definitely, you know, for better or for worse resonated from the standpoint of. You know, I, I probably work more now than I did at my previous role, but it doesn’t feel as, taxing or, the days don’t feel as long because I’m more energized about it.

[00:32:43] Um, and I think for me, the, you know, And I think, you know, we talk about this in our, in our sessions that kind of more focusing on energy management instead of time management. I think, you know, I, I think I had a better, better balance previously because my eye, because I wasn’t putting a ton of energy into my work.

[00:33:02] I had all this energy for my, you know, my other passions. And so it was fine. And so, but now. I’m putting a lot more energy into my work because I’m excited about it. And I still want to put as much energy into my outside passions. So then that’s kind of where I’m feeling off balance because I don’t have enough energy to put into all of them.

[00:33:21] Um, and being, you know, forced to make those choices about where to allocate energy on, on different things. I think for, for me, that’s kind of where. The work-life balance idea kind of resonates. And the, you know, the challenge of, um, of the energy that I have in a day, do I feel like I have enough to do everything that I want to do?

[00:33:44] Zach White: Hard topic. I love the connection to energy and the idea that a trigger. Of imbalance in our lives is when I don’t have energy left in the tank for the things I want to do the things I want to put it into. And that creates for us that emotion of imbalance. And so Matt, you’re on a really exciting journey, both in building and scaling your career and your company, and also taking your experience and coaching and supporting others who want to do what you’ve done.

[00:34:19] Tell us a little bit. What you’re doing there with my code career and, and just how you’re helping people who want to go through the same kind of transitions or build, build careers, like what you’re doing. 

[00:34:33] Matt Sevey: Absolutely. I have kind of two, two sides of what I’m doing with my co career. I think the initial kind of passion and kind of the main main focus for me is providing an alternative for kind of people like me like that pathway to learn how to code without going through these traditional web development boot camps that might not fit into their lives might not be the right of.

[00:34:58] Allocation of energy in terms of, you know, how time intensive it is, how, you know, kind of disruptive, it can be both financially and from a career standpoint to like be forced to, you know, if you can’t find a part-time option, quitting your job and then having this additional stress of not having your job.

[00:35:15] And so, you know, cause I think, you know, one of the. One of the core principles around software engineering is this idea of open-source software. That’s free to everyone to kind of sharing knowledge. And I think, you know, software is an industry that really lives by that in terms of like all the information you need to know is out there and free to use and like Bennett or very cheaply to access.

[00:35:33] And I think, Missing piece to that is kind of like, you know, what people get from going through school or going through a bootcamp. Is that basically that syllabus, like, what is it that I really need to know in order to make this change? And like, that’s definitely something that I was missing in terms of like, you know, I knew I knew a bunch of things, but I didn’t know if that was enough.

[00:35:54] I didn’t know. Learning this, you know, do I need to like spend another six months learning this thing or do I just need to spend a week brushing up on this and then I’m ready to go. And I think that’s, that is an area that I’m, uh, uh, see a lot of opportunities and I’m super excited to work with people on that.

[00:36:08] You know, they are good at kind of, self-regulating like self-directed learning, they just need that kind of syllabus, that goalpost of like, you know, where are you on your, on your journey? 

[00:36:19] Zach White: You know? Tell everybody who comes to me for guidance or mentorship around business and wants to do something similar to what I’m doing here at a Waco is that nobody will pay you for information because information is free to your point.

[00:36:37] I will gladly pay a lot of money for brilliant organization and curation of that, because if it’s up to me to go figure out of all the world’s information, which pieces do I need to know, I’m in trouble, I’m in trouble. And so I love that you, Matt you’re providing that really valuable piece for the engineer the person who wants to be in coding as an engineer.

[00:37:01] Maybe they come from a totally different background. Of all the world’s information. You’ve organized it for that. Hey, here’s, here’s where to begin. Here’s how to, how to get started. So, uh, I always finish in the same place mat. And I’m excited about your perspective on this then. Engineering leader, who’s listening and maybe they’re ready for a transition there.

[00:37:21] They want to start leaning into work that connects to their life bar and feel the passion more and the fulfillment of that life. Great questions lead answers. Follow up. So what question would you lead them with today to get started on that? 

[00:37:39] Matt Sevey: people can probably guess there’s semis. When my question is, going to be, which is, you know, are you doing the right type of engineering?

[00:37:45] And for me, that was, you know, literally like, you know, mechanical versus software, but I think it can also apply to, are you doing engineering on the right thing? You know, someone, someone might be. Absolutely in love with mechanical engineering or chemical engineering, but they’re just doing it for the wrong product, the wrong mission, the wrong team.

[00:38:07] And I think there’s trying to ask yourself, like, Am I doing the right thing? Like, is it, do I love what I do? And I’m just like the environment’s wrong. Do I love what I do? But I wish I just was doing something, you know, doing it on something different or like, do I just wish I was just doing something totally different.

[00:38:26] Zach White: I love that. And doing the right type of engineering are really important questions. I love it. Matt, if someone wants to connect with you, explore what you’re doing with my code career and your coaching, and just, you know, maybe practice that coffee chat that you talked about earlier. Where’s the best place for people to connect with you and find you.

[00:38:48] Matt Sevey: The best place would be LinkedIn and you can find me, uh, slash Sevey. My last name, I managed to stack that up early on. 

[00:38:58] Zach White: Awesome. Awesome. Well, I will absolutely put links to Matt’s profile and ways to connect with them in our show notes. Where you all always notifying information. Uh, and I, I absolutely recommend if, if any part of match story resonates for you, if you want to make these kinds of transitions, or maybe you you you’re in coding today or in, you know, in this space, but you feel plateaued, you feel like you’re just not growing anymore.

[00:39:21] I can tell you. Just by watching what Matt is doing and in coaching him now, he is not plateau. This guy is growing fast. He’s doing incredible things that he can help you to get those same outcomes. So please connect with Matt if for no other reason than to practice those cold call outreaches, to help build your network and build your career.

[00:39:39] So, Matt, I appreciate you just being honest with us, sharing your story and where you’re at and, you have a ton of success coming beyond this. I know, and I can’t wait to see it unfold, but thanks again for being here. 

[00:39:51] Matt Sevey: Yeah, thanks for having me. It was a blast.