Who is this guy, Zach White? Umm… that’s me. Have you ever wondered why The Happy Engineer Podcast was started, and what convinced me to become a CEO and Lifestyle Engineering Coach?
Now is your chance to get the inside story, and ask the questions!
In this episode, the tables are turned and I’m on the other side of the microphone as your guest! I did not know where this conversation would go, because it’s not a solo show.
I’m being interviewed by behind-the-scenes man of the hour, Daniel Powell.
We dig into my own rock bottom moments with burnout and divorce.
We go back to my engineering origins and what I’ve learned that changed my life forever.
And we answer one of the most common questions I get from engineering leaders every week, “Why did you quit a super successful career to start OACO?”
PLUS, we introduce our new Q&A opportunity where you can participate in The Happy Engineer Podcast, by submitting your questions for me to answer in future episodes.
So press play and let’s chat… because now it’s your turn to ask the questions!
The Happy Engineer Podcast
WATCH EPISODE 044: MEET YOUR HOST OF THE HAPPY ENGINEER PODCAST – A REVERSE INTERVIEW WITH ZACH WHITE
LISTEN TO EPISODE 044: MEET YOUR HOST OF THE HAPPY ENGINEER PODCAST – A REVERSE INTERVIEW WITH ZACH’S DEBRIEF
MEET YOUR HOST – AND GET INVOLVED!
My friend, that was fun. I enjoyed being on the other side of the mic!
I hope you got a lot of value from my story, and I’m happy to share any aspect of my life and journey with you that you’re interested in. If it’s going to help you to take action and move forward in your career and in your life, I’m an open book.
So take advantage of that and feel free to ask questions for future Q&A episodes!
Of course, we will also focus on insight and wisdom, strategies, mindsets, tools and more for your own career growth.
** Want to submit a question for our future Q&A? **
- Click CONTACT at the top of the website (also in the footer)
- Send in your question with our online form. Let us know what it is that you’re struggling with, what questions you have for me about building your engineering career and balancing your life.
It will be an absolute pleasure to make sure that we’re getting you the content and the tools and the mindsets that you need! So participate, and let’s engage in a conversation around what you need most. We’re going to start dripping in these Q&A episodes from time to time.
More than anything, I want to make sure you know that you’re not alone. You have a community that you can be a part of, and The Happy Engineer, it’s more than a podcast for me. This is about creating a community of leaders who are looking to create something better, get away from this culture of constant stress, anxiety, and burnout. Too many times we get treated as cogs in the machine, or even see ourselves as just a commodity in this big game.
Maybe you don’t connect with that, but there’s way too many engineering leaders who do. This is about helping each and every one of you out there to reach your next level.
So keep crushing comfort, create courage, and shoot us your questions!
We can’t wait for you to become a participant in this community.
Let’s do this.
ABOUT ZACH WHITE
Zach White is a widely regarded coach known for changing the game in engineering career & leadership coaching. He has worked with hundreds of engineering leaders from top technology companies worldwide including Facebook (Meta), Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, to industry leaders like General Motors, Nike, Lockheed Martin, Whirlpool, and many more to escape burnout and achieve breakthrough results.
Zach is the Founder and CEO of Oasis of Courage, known as OACO, a fast-growing company with unique and proven coaching programs exclusively for engineers. He also hosts a top rated show, The Happy Engineer Podcast, where listeners discover the steps to engineering success through expert interviews and Zach’s own transformational framework, the Lifestyle Engineering Blueprint.
As a coach for engineering leaders, Zach understands the journey first hand, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, and a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. With over a decade of experience and top performance in a $20B organization, he is now a sought-after coach by engineering leaders around the world.
Zach is affectionately known as the World’s Best Lifestyle Engineering Coach.
Connect with him online and schedule a call to build your career, balance your life, and BE HAPPY!
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Zach White on LinkedIn
- The Happy Engineer Podcast on Instagram
- Oasis of Courage on Instagram
- Join our NEW Happy Engineer Facebook Group
- Ready to Create Courage in your Career? Zach can help. Book a FREE Career Clarity Call now!
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:
Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.
[00:00:00] Daniel Powell: Well welcome Happy Engineers. My name is Daniel Powell and right off the bat. Let’s, uh, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Shall we? I’m not your normal host. So today’s episode is going to be slightly different from the norm, but I have faith that you are going to love it. And with that out of the way, I want to introduce my very special guest, man of the hour, Zach white.
[00:00:25] So welcome to your own podcast
[00:00:28] Zach White: Daniel this is amazing. I never expected to be a guest on my own show, which is brilliant. And I’m so excited for the time thanks man.
Expand to Read Full Transcript
[00:00:38] Daniel Powell: So obviously we all know you as the CEO of a Waco and the host and creator of the happy engineer podcast.
[00:00:47] And I’m your editor. You know, I take care of all the post production backend stuff. Now I need your opinion about something, man. I think by de. can reasonably claim the title of your most avid listener because, you know, I came on so 13 since then. I’ve never missed an episode and I listened to every episode at least twice.
[00:01:10] So any listeners out there, if. If anyone wants to contend me for that title of most avid listener, they can knock me off my throne. I’d be happy to let them take it. But I want to know about,
[00:01:22] Zach White: Honestly, Daniel, I think not only will I gladly give you the crown of most avid listener, but I can safely say.
[00:01:30] You have listened to more of the happy engineer podcast than even I have, because, other than recording the conversation, I barely get back through each episode one time and you’ve got at least the full two reps. So no question in my mind that you’re the guy, but.
[00:01:47] If anybody out there has ever done a three-peat on an episode or I, I I’d be super curious to hear that I’ll happily can see
[00:01:53] Daniel Powell: the title. You just gotta, you just got to let Zach know so he can give you that title. Hey man, as I’ve edited your show, like the [00:02:00] reason behind this interview today is I hear you.
[00:02:02] You talk so much, you know, and you’re a great host, right? You’re always playing the gracious host, but I always hear drop these little Easter eggs of like Zach’s experience. Sometimes your guy, you know, but my listeners, I, you know, I like, I I’ve listened to every episode twice. I don’t know what he’s talking about, you know?
[00:02:11] So I think it’s kinda hard to, uh, to picture your persona. Right. Um, but anyways, point being, I hear these little east rakes that you drop and I’m just like Zach, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, rewind, rewind. I want to hear about that, like that part of your story that you just alluded to, like talk about that. So, you know, my curiosity about your career.
[00:02:19] So as I’ve edited your show, the point behind this interview today is I’ve just heard you drop so many things about your experiences. That for one, you know, I’m just like, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, Zack rewind. You know, it’s like, I want to hear more about that because there seems to be a lot of wisdom, a lot of experience in that, but you know, you’re always playing the part of gracious host.
[00:02:19] Uh, you know, you just never quite, uh, talk about those things, which a point behind the interview today. Um, it’s cutting out on mine.
[00:02:19] Zach White: Is it really? I, I see you. I hear you. It looks good. Excellent. Yeah. I don’t know, man. I’ve, I’ve got as full of signal as I normally can and I’m seeing you fine. So I don’t know if maybe there’s just still some lag in zooms end because of.
[00:02:19] Having the glitch there. You never know.
[00:02:19] Daniel Powell: All right, well, we’ll just continue on and we’ll get what we get. So keep rolling.
[00:02:19] Zach White: Keep rolling.
[00:02:19] Daniel Powell: All right. Uh, So I just know that your personal journey has so much insight and wisdom to offer your audience. And I just want to dig into that and I’m super excited that you’ve agreed to hop into the hot seat for this episode And I’m
[00:02:33] Zach White: diving too. I appreciate that Daniel. And it is easy for me to forget sometimes people. Want to know about my own journey and experience as an engineering leader and how I got into this seat as a CEO of a Waco and a coach. And, um, you know, in a way it’s, it’s fun to be unsure where you’ll take this conversation today and to be on the receiving end.
[00:02:52] So I’m really.
[00:02:54] Daniel Powell: too, is just feel like you have so much, uh, so much clout that you don’t brag about, you know, and I’m like, huh, [00:03:00] what’s your audience like who this guy fully is? cause I think it’s powerful.
[00:03:04] Zach White: So I appreciate that. I appreciate
[00:03:06] Daniel Powell: that. So let’s, hop right in here.
[00:03:09] The year is beginning 2014. these are not fun years of your life, as I understand it. And you wake up one day and you’re sitting somewhere where you never thought you’d be. And in fact, it was one of your life’s purposes. You’ve now you’d never be here, but that was sitting in front of a divorce lawyer.
[00:03:31] Now, before we go into how you got there, just take me into that moment. And just tell me what it feels like to be singing that room. What’s going through your head.
[00:03:42] Zach White: You know, a typical board room kind of environment, long table made for at least 12 people. And here it’s just me and my attorney and she was a really gracious woman. Felt really [00:04:00] small in that, in that moment for a lot of reasons, you know, not just the environment, but mentally, you know, you can just imagine how this conversation begins right here.
[00:04:10] I’m meeting my attorney for the first time. She knows I’m here to get a divorce proceeding started. I have no idea what that means or how this is going to go. And that opening. Question. Yeah. It’s like, so Zach, great to meet you. Tell me what happened. Why do you need a divorce? And honestly, Daniel it’s like, there’s never been a more embarrassing question I’ve ever been asked in my life.
[00:04:37] Yeah. The initial response inside. It’s like, I, I don’t know. I, I honestly don’t know how this happened and I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to be here, but here I am, you know, it’s just, and the whole thing was really awkward. Um, again, she was incredibly gracious. The whole first meeting only took 20 minutes and it was really [00:05:00] quick.
[00:05:00] And what was business as usual for her was. A life altering soul crushing moment for me. And I think that whole dynamic just made it so hard to really get it. I guess I just didn’t get it. It’s like this is happening before my eyes and watching my life happen. Very kind of surreal.
[00:05:25] Daniel Powell: So take me into that. did you get there? You know, I know, I know it has some, a bit to do with career and imbalance. Um, just take me into that,
[00:05:37] Zach White: you know, we could unpack for more hours than any listener here wants to hear about life, how that happened, but I’ll share a couple of big things that I believe were factors.
[00:05:37] And you mentioned career and balance. And for me from the moment. Got out of college at Purdue to that moment, sitting in front of a divorce attorney, I can tell you that I subconsciously placed the biggest amount of my value and worth in life into the idea of success that I had pictured, [00:06:00] which dominantly revolved around career success, uh, which was kind of my.
[00:06:05] Version of my childhood identity around academic success and being told that I was extremely intelligent and extremely smart and, and blessed in that way, which I feel thankful for that. It’s true in many ways, but it also then became this, um, you know, and I don’t even want to say obsession, but just a primary subconscious focus around am I living up to the.
[00:06:29] Expectation of myself, my parents, my friends and family, the people around me, uh, and that kind of manifested as a desire for career success. And at the same time, this pattern of behavior of put energy into what’s working and just do your best to avoid or manage or pretend that things are okay in the areas of life that were not.
[00:06:55] So you take these two dynamics that, you know, [00:07:00] nobody told me anything different. It’s just kind of what’s happening this just life. I didn’t, I didn’t see it at the time, but career was going well because I was good at it. And so that was succeeding and it matched this part of my identity and what I wanted to create.
[00:07:15] Um, so I just kept putting more energy into that marriage and some of these other areas of personal. We’re not going that well, I didn’t feel equipped in knowing how to solve those problems, but I was really good at solving engineering problems. And so I just kind of managed that and in many ways, pretended like it was going to be okay when, and again, anybody could have looked at my marriage, you know, even a year or two years in and said, Hey, Zach, you’ve got real problems here.
[00:07:45] If you don’t get intentional about address. You know that road doesn’t lead to happiness in a lifetime of fulfillment and marriage. Um, it would’ve been obvious, but again, that’s that pattern over time, you know what begins [00:08:00] as just a small little issue. Yeah, the trajectory shifts negative, but then you don’t address it for a year and then two years, and then three years.
[00:08:09] And over time, it gets to be huge problems that, you know, eventually you and your spouse look at together and they feel unsolvable and, and you end up across from it, a divorce attorney. And And so again, none of that, none of that, every step that you get,
[00:08:20] Daniel Powell: further
[00:08:21] away, it’s going to take, Time off, right? It’s like, it’s going to take more energy away from your career to fix that problem. So when you’re good at
[00:08:29] Zach White: exactly, just keep doing what
[00:08:31] Daniel Powell: you’re like. That would be, that would be a hard choice. I’m gonna, I’m gonna say that would be a hard drive to, to contain right? The drive to like engineer.
[00:08:32] Zach White: Totally, totally. And the stealthy pain. Daniel, let me say this too. Th the thing that. Really reveal itself until now looking back is that I was totally kidding myself to think that that area of life that wasn’t working was separate from career. You know, my career results were being held back by those areas that were not working.
[00:08:51] I just didn’t see it at the time. And, and you know, you fast forward beyond the divorce and you know, the stories. We’ll show that. But, um, I was kidding [00:09:00] myself, man, honestly, just totally subconsciously blind to, to those things,
[00:09:05] Daniel Powell: I was thinking through, through your story and your journey. Now, this thing popped out to be of just how things change once you graduate school? You know, because the academic sphere, it’s like the reward for head down hard work is it’s so clearly rewarded in school. You know, you pass the class in six months, you get an a, and then, so it’s like kind of that compulsive cycle. If you’re valedictorian, you know, you kind of continue that into your career.
[00:09:32] I can see that. A problem, you know, just because the rewards are a lot more sporadic and maybe self fulfilling, you know,
[00:09:41] Zach White: a hundred percent. And you shift from that finite timeframe of the reward to this thing called your career. That’s gonna last for decades. And nobody really helps you understand how to make that transition.
[00:09:55] You know, they teach you all the skills to do the job in college, but they don’t actually teach you [00:10:00] how to live as an engineer. And as an adult, you know, that that’s just sort of expected that you’re going to figure it out as you go. And, you know, some people do, I guess, but most of us run into some real problems in those first few years.
[00:10:12] Daniel Powell: we always do get summer vacation. Don’t we in school? So that’s like built in there, but it’s like an afterthought. It’s not like, oh, we should get a break. Oh, we just get a break. You know, we never think about doing that much in our career education. That’s plenty for me. Um, so let’s turn clock back even further.
[00:10:15] Let’s go to 2008 as a good year for Zack. You graduate. Degree in mechanical engineering, shiny new degree, fancy new job. And he got married on top of that man, all in the same year, that’s nuts. Like I’ve never experienced that much, uh, success. Should I say in one year, like, just take me into that. What did that feel like to be a young buck, graduate in college with all of these, these big wins.
[00:10:37] Zach White: It’s it’s it’s an interesting. Thing to look at it in reverse order, because you know, you, when you already know the ending five years later, I’m sitting across from the divorce attorney. It doesn’t feel as shiny, but you’re right. I mean, 2008, that time, especially summer 2008 for me, you know, I was unstoppable.
[00:10:54] Right. I just finished that Emmy degree boiler up Purdue was a great place to go to school. I loved [00:11:00] it. And. got married to my college, sweetheart, my dance partner, my ballroom Latin swing dance partner. We had competed in dancing at Purdue and yeah, everything felt like it was on track. Right. All the expectations of Zach getting the great grades, graduating, becoming an engineer, uh, you know, moving off to St.
[00:11:15] Joseph, Michigan to take on this leadership development program at Whirlpool corporation and, you know, great salary, great benefits, great leadership opportunity. It just felt like, yes, you know, this is, this is the track I I’m on the right bus got on the right train. Uh, all the hard work paid off, you know, all those kinds of thoughts were swirling in my mind.
[00:11:35] And if anything, I was just inflating those expectations of myself even more like, you know, this is all coming to me. The next big thing is going to come. It’s going to be. Just the engineer, right? It’s a straight line from here, right. To, to ultimate victory. That’s the only thing I could see at the time.
[00:11:51] And, um, you know, what’s really fascinating. Daniel’s that 2008 later, that. I actually did get sort of stained with some really hard things because [00:12:00] the recession, the great recession as we call it out started, and I actually experienced a significant layoff at Whirlpool corporation didn’t affect me, but many of the people who I’d started working with got laid off, I think it was in October of 2008.
[00:12:18] And it’s funny, I haven’t actually thought about this in a long time. There was a really interesting moment as a young engineer. It’s I think it was a Monday and I was working on a project with a few engineers, but the lead guy’s name was Ted and Ted had been mentoring me and coaching me on some things about how to, you know, get, get stuff done on this project.
[00:12:40] And I come in it’s maybe 10:00 AM, Monday morning. I’m walking down the hall. I’ve got a question for Ted. I go to his desk. He’s not. I come back, I’m walking back to my desk and I see Ted in the hallway and I walk up to him and just say, Hey, Ted Lauren, and hope you had a good weekend. Quick question for you on the project, [00:13:00] blah, blah, blah.
[00:13:01] Give them the question. Ted just looks at me right in the eye and says something like it doesn’t matter. Anyway. Figure it out for yourself. Totally different kind of Ted than I’ve ever interacted with. He was the nicest guy. Great engineer. I mean, he was really gruff with this tone. Totally blew me off and just like kept walking and I didn’t know what to do right here.
[00:13:26] This, you know, young engineer, couple of months on the job never had an experience like this interacting with somebody else, especially cause it was really a different kind of experience. I already knew Ted. He was a close colleague and had helped me a lot up to that point. Well, I find out around noon that Ted had actually just walked out of the HR office and had been let go in the riff that had happened and.
[00:13:51] was just like, wow, what do I, what do I say what I do? And he actually texted me the next day and apologized for the reaction, which is completely understandable. I mean, the guy had just lost his [00:14:00] job, um, it was a. Weird experience because, you know, again, in my mind, and in my world, everything was on the up and up and it was kind of that first moment out of college.
[00:14:08] It was a couple of months later where I realized like, life is, is not a straight line, always easy thing. I wish I’d spent more time learning at that moment. Honestly, I kind of brushed it off and just kept about my business. Like I’m untouchable because I’m the young, new guy, top talent nobody’s ever going to fire me.
[00:14:25] And I just kind of kept going. Um, unfortunately missed opportunity if Ted ever hears this he’ll know who he is. He’s an amazing guy. Great engineer, but yeah, 2008, what a year man?
[00:14:34] graduate in
[00:14:34] Daniel Powell: may of 2008. You start your full-time gig at Whirlpool.
[00:14:34] What made.
[00:14:34] Zach White: Yeah. Yeah. I got married in June, so I, I talked Whirlpool into letting me start a little bit later than the rest of my kind of onboarding class. So I spent a couple of weeks in Hawaii for the honeymoon and just living the dream man. And it was awesome. And so I come stroll in and yeah, that was like around October around October.
[00:14:34] So you’ve got July, August, September, maybe three months.
[00:14:34] Daniel Powell: What a ride, I mean, to paint your store with a broad brush, you know, just, you know, great high school student, like pretty, uh, you, you described yourself as having a pretty comfortable upbringing, you know, secure up your brain at least, right. Uh, valedictorian. Then you go to a note noteworthy school, you know, you graduate there, you get this, this new gig off to Hawaii.
[00:14:34] That’s like the capstone, everything. And then the recession comes and it’s like, you know, I’ve always just been so enamored with this idea of. Hedonic adaptation, right? Like you get a new job, you think it’s going to solve all the problems in your world. You get in there and that’s like, okay, this is just another job.
[00:14:34] Right. And then it’s kind of on you, how you relate to it, you know? Um, but no, I mean, what a, what a amplified curve that is, it’s like on top of the world graduate and that’s like 2008 layoffs, like, whoa, this is, this is kinda, this is uncovering. Yeah. Anyway, it seems like an amplified
[00:14:34] Zach White: curve. You know what it is.
[00:14:34] And I think it also is part of what creates some of those, uh, maybe safety mechanisms that become blind spots. You know, like I mentioned, rather than really leaning into understanding what happened during 2008, 2009 at the time, it almost put more of that untouchable kind of. Paradigm into the foreground for me, you know, Hey, I didn’t get laid off because I was young, cheap, but also top talent engineer.
[00:14:55] I’ll never have to worry about that. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, [00:15:00] you know? And so in a way, because it was uncomfortable because I didn’t know how to process it because I didn’t know. Mentors and coaches and people really supporting me at that time. You know, I just took the values and the worldview that I understood and took what was happening, overlaid it into that model.
[00:15:19] And it just kind of, you know, it’s, self fulfilling prophecy, if you will, where you just say, oh yeah. Okay. So everything that I thought about me was right. I’m just going to keep going, you know, and, and. That not to say that I was a low performer or anything like that, but it just didn’t, uh, I didn’t let it have the effect on my life and career that it could have had it really, especially in service of others.
[00:15:39] Um, I was still really selfish and silly at the time to be honest,
[00:15:45] Daniel Powell: When looking back, when do you feel like things got out of balance for you? Maybe they were never in balance.
[00:15:54] Zach White: You know, I think your comment is accurate [00:16:00] that if I’m, if I’m looking at the data engineer in me in 2000 8, 9, 10, that timeframe, I don’t think. That I ever was in full integrity to what I said I cared about, which were things like faith, family, marriage, you know, the, these areas, but where I actually invested my time, my energy, my focus, my development, my growth, my money was never in those areas.
[00:16:32] And so I think the truth is that I was not in balance. But I did not become acutely aware of that until a couple years into life. Really? During grad school at. Uh, which, you know, graduated in May, 2008, uh, worked for a couple years at Whirlpool and then went in the, uh, let’s see that would’ve been fall 2010, went to Ann Arbor to do my master’s in EMEA [00:17:00] at U of M.
[00:17:01] And during my masters was when all of these imbalances and weaknesses in the other domains of life than career. Surfaced. Yeah. I felt the pain of those areas not being healthy during grad school. And it really stretched it even further out because I was so focused on getting my degree and working crazy hours all the time.
[00:17:27] I mean, in the library till, you know, God knows when kind of thing. And so that was the point where it actually became very conscious, like, oh man, I’m in a bad place. And coming back from grad school, Moving back to Southwest Michigan, you’ll hear in St. Joe Benton Harbor and going back to work full time and seeking to re-establish a rhythm of normal life.
[00:17:49] It just never really happened. And you know, it took another, another two years and change before it actually collapsed because I was really good at pretending [00:18:00] and putting up appearances and just kind of managing the whole situation. But man, it was, it was taxing, um, for sure. um, for sure.
[00:18:08] Daniel Powell: So, I guess we, uh, So, another scene from your life that I just feel like so many people would relate to is this vacation, this family vacation that you went on, a Caribbean cruise you’re on vacation, family vacation, surrounded by people you love in the middle of the ocean and you can’t switch off.
[00:18:28] Can’t stop thinking about work. What did that moment look like for you?
[00:18:31] Zach White: I imagine a lot of people will relate to this, which is not, I can remember. It’s not a good thing. I don’t believe, but it’s a real thing. And so, yeah. You know, um, my, my ex-wife’s family loved to do the family cruise thing and we did it every January.
[00:18:44] And what’s better than getting on a boat, sailing around the Caribbean, checking out all these amazing islands and hanging out on the water and the sun when it’s negative, who knows what in Michigan, you know, it’s like this, this ought to be the ultimate getaway. Right. And, and what I found was, you know, like I [00:19:00] said, we did this every year, Daniel and, and year over year, over year, it started to get more and more difficult for me to actually.
[00:19:10] Uh, you know, now as a coach, I would say, be present. I wouldn’t have called it that at the time. It didn’t maybe understand that language at the time, but, uh, I really wasn’t there on the boat. You know, my mind, my thoughts. that’s a big part of who we are. You know, we have our physical body, but we have our, you know, you know, our thinking our mind, our soul, you might say, and you know, my soul was elsewhere.
[00:19:32] My body was in the Caribbean, but my mind and my soul and my spirit was somewhere else. And it had a couple of dimensions. One was I had not ever been taught or practice. Setting boundaries around where work would consume my time and energy and where it, what? And so I, it got blurry. I was always thinking about work, always thinking about career and I didn’t [00:20:00] practice setting those boundaries so that I could invest in the other areas of Miami.
[00:20:03] That line. Again,
[00:20:03] Daniel Powell: you kind of blipped out. Oops. So you blipped out, right? No problem. Just start with
[00:20:03] Zach White: setting boundaries. Totally. So.
[00:20:03] Piece of this is that I had never been taught or practiced setting any kind of healthy boundaries around where work would consume my time and energy and focus and thinking and where it wouldn’t so that I could invest into the other areas of my life. And so you get this blurred line, I’m thinking about work all the time with some, if not all of my, of my energy.
[00:20:12] So you take. And then you amplify that with the fact that over time, like we just talked about marriage, wasn’t great, which strained the relationships with my in-laws and those family members and, and the, the negative, you know, hidden parts of my life. And there’s probably something to be spoken about about this idea of secrecy and keeping that hidden, that made it even worse.
[00:20:39] It’s just like cancer in your life. It’s so, so brutal. Um, but, but you take those two things. The fact that I really didn’t know how to shut off work and I had never practiced doing that. Plus, uh, I had this cancer in my life making it really difficult to even want to be there. Uh, here I am sitting on the deck of a [00:21:00] cruise.
[00:21:01] And what should be the most beautiful, relaxing recreational use to recreate myself and, and I’m getting nothing good from it. You know, my, my mind is elsewhere. I’m just like, and, and the saddest part, Daniel is probably nobody knew that. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t ask for help. I did my absolute best to put on my bright smiling face and just be the nice guy that everybody expected me to be.
[00:21:29] And, uh, what a sad moment, right? It’s like, you could just copy paste that into basically any of the things happening in my world at the time. And that’s basically what was going on. If I was. Any place other than work, I wasn’t fully in that place. My mind was always somewhere else. And just trying to hide and manage and cover up what was not working, which if anybody can relate to that man that consumes so much energy to try to keep the bad areas of life [00:22:00] secret and huge mistake.
[00:22:02] Daniel Powell: I think everybody can, everybody can relate to that. Work-life balance, you know, on, on some level you you’d be out of a job if they couldn’t get.
[00:22:02] Why is it so hard for us to let go of work? You know, why is it, uh, why, why are we still frequently preoccupied? You know, I mean, don’t even talk about work. You know, you sit down at a restaurant we’re always preoccupied. You know, it’s like the, the amount of people, you know, cell phones at the table, right.
[00:22:05] We just live preoccupied lifestyles, but why is it so hard for us to, to let go and, uh, Yeah, I think that’d be easier. Wouldn’t wouldn’t it?
[00:22:08] Zach White: Yeah. There’s I think elements of ingrained, you know, human psychology at play, and then there’s some cultural and tech technological elements that are amplifying that in the world of distraction that we live in.
[00:22:21] But, but first of all, independent of technology, cell phones, email, Distraction and interruption in our pockets. Let’s, let’s set that to the side for the moment. It’s easy to blame those things for our inability to unplug. Let’s just look at the reality that in our mind, we master the things that we practice and I don’t know very many people who are ever taught and then practice how to bring 100% of your focus into the present.
[00:22:56] With whatever is in, you know, if it’s a conversation over coffee with [00:23:00] a friend, if it’s a, you know, enjoying a romantic dinner with your spouse, if it’s playing with your kids, or if it’s a big meeting at the office for your career, nobody taught me and most of my clients never were taught. How do you actually rally the resources of your mind to a hundred percent focus on the thing that’s right in front of?
[00:23:24] How do you even get better? What does that look like? What does that mean? How do you practice that? you know, I, I leave the meeting and my mind is focused there. Let’s just pretend it’s a hundred percent, I’m totally focused on work. And I walk out of that room and I go to lunch with my spouse. Well, where did the switch happen?
[00:23:45] Like w something, something has to change. I got to come out of the context. The meeting and get into the context of I’m here with my spouse and actually switch. Well, how do you do that? Yeah. It’s so easy to leave. Half your mind running and racing about the thing you were [00:24:00] just talking about for that meeting, because there’s unfinished extra actions you got to take there’s, you know, important questions that your mind is seeking to solve.
[00:24:07] That those aren’t bad things. Daniel. It’s not like you’re broken if that’s a challenge for you, but what ends up happening if I’m. 50 50. You know, my spouse is getting a fraction of me. Work is getting a fraction of me at that time and nobody wins. honestly, this is a thing we all deal with because we don’t practice and therefore we don’t mask.
[00:24:32] How to be present. And, and so it all is like, it’s almost like web browser. We’ve got a zillion little bit tab. We’ve got all these open tabs and they’re all consuming some of our CPU. And, and, you know, as an engineer, I like to use nerdy examples. I think this, this is a simple way to think about it. It’s not a perfect model of the human mind, but it helps to make it clear.
[00:24:52] The more tabs I leave out. The harder it is to put all my focus into the one that’s here. And especially [00:25:00] when they’ve all got those stupid little red dots telling me that there’s actions, unread or undone on each one. And man, you talk about Tufts. So, you know, technology amplifies that effect. But I think it’s inherent to the fact that we don’t realize your mind is the most powerful tool you have, but it also doesn’t train itself.
[00:25:20] You know, you, you must intention. Practice and train those things. If you want to get good at it. And the rewards are significant. I can tell you from having walked that journey now, man, it’s, it’s a totally different game when you can go to the Caribbean and turn off these tabs that are not for that moment.
[00:25:42] It’s not that they’re not important. They’re just not for that time.
[00:25:47] Daniel Powell: heard you mentioned this, uh, Uh, not a metaphor. I’ve heard you mention this though, this though, before your wife would rather have 10 minutes of your undivided attention than like a, a hour evening where you’re distracted. That hit home with me, man.
[00:25:56] Like, yeah,
[00:25:56] Zach White: yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. I don’t know any [00:26:00] spouses yet who. Ultimately disagree with that idea, I guess. Okay. There’s this idea of just being together quality time and, you know, sometimes there’s real value in just being in the same room, even if you’re doing two totally different things.
[00:26:13] Right. And I get that. I’m actually that way with my spouse, if I’m going to read a book or, and, and my spouse now, for those who don’t know, I’m happily remarried and, uh, Johana, who’s not on this interview. Uh, she’ll probably hear this and love her to death, but. There’s there’s certain joy that I take from just being in the room with her, but that’s not the same as actually being with her, you she knows the difference.
[00:26:36] She feels the difference. And I could tell you, at least in our marriage, man, she’s, she’s not interested in four more hours of me just occupying the same physical space with her. She wants his act to be in the room takes intention. It takes focus to do that.
[00:26:53] Daniel Powell: I can’t remember where I heard this, but heard about this monk.
[00:26:54] Right? Who was, who was so tuned in? He was so like present to the moment. I think it was brother Lawrence or like brother Lawrence wrote about him anyways. But like people could sit and watch this guy [00:27:00] peel potatoes and just like his connection to the moment was so like tuned in that it was just like, wow.
[00:27:07] He’s like he’s in it, you know, so fascinate people,
[00:27:13] Zach White: which I, you know, you know, and I’m sure people probably laugh at even just hearing something like that. But, but I will tell you if you’ve never been in the presence of a human who is extraordinary at bringing their full energy and intention into something that is happening in front of, in front of you, right.
[00:27:34] It is a bit gripping. It’s not like a normal conversation that we have in our lives. It’s, it’s, it’s a different experience. And so, yeah, I could totally see that if somebody is, you know, fully engrossed in, in peeling potatoes and you’ve never actually seen somebody, so.
[00:27:51] Daniel Powell: It’s like when a, when 12 year old tries to sing the balloons.
[00:27:55] Right. And then like the 65 year old man with a gruff voice things, the blue there’s some [00:28:00] experience behind those words. Usually, you know what I’m saying? It’s like experience on display rather than, um, anyway, we’ll, we’ll keep it moving along here.
[00:28:10] So. Did you hit a rock bottom with, with a divorce and everything? Would you call that a rock bottom
[00:28:16] Zach White: a hundred percent? the rock bottom phrase, everybody has their, you know what that means to you, but for me as a arc across my whole life, that was, that was the bottom moment. Yeah.
[00:28:30] Daniel Powell: So you come out of the.
[00:28:32] And you’ve described yourself as making the decision to be one, a hundred percent at home. When you’re at home a hundred percent at work, when you’re at work undistracted in each location, your career explodes. This is nuts, man. Over the next five years, five promotions and five years, $70,000 to a hundred 170,000 That’s just Nadi, man. Like, I don’t know anybody. Who on the, on the coattails of such an upset, such a shock to the system, that’s made that much [00:29:00] progress. Now this, this is where I get really curious, because I know that nobody makes that progress a vacuum. Where, where did you find, who supported Zack
[00:29:08] Zach White: Yeah, there’s, there’s a long list, but I’ll hit, I’ll take the most important ones. Um, no more generally
[00:29:14] Daniel Powell: just, was it coaches, was it an organization? Was it coworkers? Friends?
[00:29:14] Zach White: So family first, I’d say the most important thing that I did during that time was reinvested in. My mom, my sisters, my like the people who loved me most, who had been there for me the whole time.
[00:29:29] But during that time of deep secrecy and just dealing with problems, I hid a lot from them. Right. So going back to the, that inner circle and becoming what I call fully. Uh, just, you know, asking for in a way forgiveness for everything that I had neglected in that time and really deeply reconnecting and their love and support was, was paramount.
[00:29:50] But number two, um, combination of, of a marriage counseling. Doing some, some healing work from how divorce impacted me [00:30:00] and then coaches. And I hired my first coach at that time, just, you know, months later and really invested into the process of coaching as a catalyst to moving forward. And I could say hands down while the healing and the counseling was critical to lay a good foundation, the results that you just described.
[00:30:19] The promotions, the income, the new life that I was experiencing. No, no doubt. The coaching was the catalyst to that transformation. I think that’s
[00:30:30] Daniel Powell: really cool, man. Like, hear some people talk about coaching and it’s just kinda like, yeah. I think I’m going to become a coach, you know? I like to help people, but I love that about your story, that like, that’s just, it’s such a crucial part of your story and it kind of has expanded to this thing where I know like I’ve been invested in, in this way and I want to invest in other people and the same way it’s uh, yeah, very holistic it’s uh, I think that’s part of your.
[00:30:55] Zach White: Yeah, no, I appreciate that. Yeah. I mean, I would not be,
[00:30:59] Daniel Powell: you got that [00:31:00] experience, you know, you’re
[00:31:00] Zach White: speaking with right. The music moved me first before I started creating music. Right. And so when it comes to coaching, the reason I believe in it wholeheartedly is first because of what I went through and how coaching transformed my own life.
[00:31:19] Now, following on with. How much additional training and study and research and, and seeing the thousands and thousands of stories of other people who’ve gone through the different forms of coaching and had their own transformation enhances that belief. But it began because I, I lived it for sure.
[00:31:38] Daniel Powell: Now I want to, I want to make a note here for, for all the audience audience members out there.
[00:31:38] It’s not that you did coaching, you became better and now you’re. It’s that you did coaching that started you on your journey. You’re, you’re in a better relationship with your life. And as I understand it, you continue to have numerous coaches that speak into your life.
[00:31:45] Zach White: Yeah, yes. A hundred percent. And I always will.
[00:31:47] Daniel, I, again, if I’m going to come out into the world and tell people that if you want new results in your career and your life in any area, then work with a coach to [00:32:00] accelerate and become a catalyst to that transformation. It would be way out of integrity for me to not use that vehicle in my own life.
[00:32:08] And so I can tell you, I mean, some of my. You know, they, they’ve never invested in coaching and to even spend a hundred dollars or a thousand dollars or wow. You know, 5,000 or 10,000, it feels like a crazy investment to them. I will gladly put every available disposable dollar I have into coaching in my own.
[00:32:27] Because I know the reward is, is a hundred fold and it continues to be. And my wife and I, you know, invest, you know, five figures, if not six figures in coaching every year, because it’s just that worthwhile. And I’ll continue to for the rest of my life. I, I love the process. I enjoy the process and for me to serve my clients at the highest level, I need to be stretched and challenged and grow.
[00:32:52] At the highest level. And so, you know, that, that’s how I, I look at that. It’s part of my integrity, meaning congruence across all of who I am. If I’m going to say [00:33:00] that this matters, then I want to live it in my own life.
[00:33:04] Daniel Powell: That’s a good word, man. That’s that’s uh, integrity. It’s taken me, taken us 50 minutes, 50 minutes to get there.
[00:33:07] Right. But it’s finally answered this question. It’s like, why is Zach so appealing? Right? Like why, you know, some people, you just look at him and guy, he’s got something different. Then then a lot of other people and that’s it that’s integrity, you know, it’s, uh, yeah. Practicing what you preach and finding your value where you’re giving value, you know?
[00:33:23] Zach White: Thanks, man. Um,
[00:33:24] Daniel Powell: okay. So w we’ll have to, we’ll have to giddy up here. You’re going a little faster, close this thing out, but so people start noticing changed Zack in the workplace five years, five promotions. That guy Zack has changed and people even start seeking you out, asking you to mentor them. Do you remember the first person that came to you and ask you to mentor them?
[00:33:43] Zach White: The first person? Wow. What a great question. The truth is no, I don’t remember the very first one, but I will talk about one that stands out in the early days a, it was a guy named Tyler and Tyler. [00:34:00] The reason he stands out is because he, he came. With the hunger and the coachable spirit that I now look for in all of my clients, you know, when we go through kind of the onboarding and qualification and the, are you a good fit for our programs?
[00:34:17] The, some of the things that I had listened for and look for, for a person who’s ready to really get tremendous results. I mean, I think back to my early conversations with Tyler and he was. That engineer, just bringing this deep desire, matched with an open beginner’s mind, uh, leaving ego at the door. And it was just a pure pleasure to, to mentor and work with and coach Tyler, because everything we talked about, he would go off.
[00:34:49] Run wild experiments and do it and take massive action and get results and then come back and say, all right, that worked what’s next. You know, it just, it was so fun to work with them. So [00:35:00] that that’s one of the many that’s really stands out to me. And then a shout out to Tyler. When you hear this, you know,
[00:35:06] Daniel Powell: something, something I wrote down here was like, was, did that catch you off guard?
[00:35:06] But looking at everything, I’m sure it didn’t because you just been so ingrained in the coaching culture. It probably just seemed like a logical next step. I would
[00:35:06] Zach White: imagine for me to become a coach or just
[00:35:06] Daniel Powell: for you to input into other people’s lives, like receiving so much from others. I feel like that was probably a logical step for that to just trickle downhill, you know?
[00:35:06] Zach White: Yeah. And, and honestly, by that time I was starting to become more and more aware. Of how rewarding those moments were. And I, I would be lying to you if I didn’t say I really created an open container for people to come in. I really wanted to do it. I mean, I think at one point I had probably 10 plus mentees at Whirlpool Corp who were wanting to meet with me all the time.
[00:35:29] And it got to the point where I, I don’t have bandwidth to take on anymore. Uh, which was part of what started me thinking about, well, how can I create. Uh, way to serve more people in this capacity, because I really loved it.
[00:35:41] Daniel Powell: So why a Waco, you know, I mean, I, this is a good segue, right? I think that kinda answers the question itself, but let’s, let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth, you know, like just after this unprecedented professional success for five years.
[00:35:56] Why would you leave that to, to start to [00:36:00]
[00:36:00] Zach White: so such a good question. And I’m pretty confident, you know, my mom still is asking that question. Why is you quit? You know, um, yeah, I was on an amazing track and, and Whirlpool was really good to me. I mean, I loved working there and I had amazing opportunities and, and had I stayed, I’m fully confident that trajectory would have continued.
[00:36:20] I mean, I really was loving it and on a great path, but, but that’s. I think. What happened was, you know, maybe call it the stars aligned or, or the, the collision of fate, whatever you want to say. But there were three things that ended up overlapping and I had this epiphany moment. The first was my, joy and passion and skill around engineering and leadership and corporate success and everything that had happened those last five years, like you mentioned, and just feeling like, wow, I have a degree of mastery now on how to build a great career as an engineering leader.
[00:36:54] Overlap that with this other passion that I had around entrepreneurship and [00:37:00] really for a long time started in grad school, I had. The side hustle mentality. I owned businesses on the side. I’d been an investor, had been doing a lot, you know, had multiple LLCs that I owned at the time. And I always felt like at some point I would leave the fortune 500 and want to do something in a startup or, or run my own company capacity.
[00:37:21] So I had this entrepreneurial itch and then I had this. The area of focus and coaching becoming a coach. And I had done coach training and really invested in that skill at the onset. It was because I loved it and I know it will help my team at Whirlpool. So I want to become a great coach. Well, you got these three spheres and, and they all kind of collided in April, 2019.
[00:37:46] And I remember sitting with my best. At a bar here in town. Uh, Dave crock, amazing guy. He and I are sitting there talking and I just looked at Dave is like, Hey man, I think I need to quit my job. It’s [00:38:00] time. I, I believe that there’s a business to be built where engineering, leadership, the idea of entrepreneurship and starting something from scratch and coaching.
[00:38:13] Happen at the same time for me. And I don’t have to have these three worlds all separate. I could bring it together and actually put all my energy into one thing. And, um, my life purpose statement, which hasn’t changed since I did coaching that original coach worked me through this as the diamond Oasis along life’s journey.
[00:38:32] That gives you courage to walk on. I just told him right then I was like, this is my time. The Oasis of courage. And I didn’t even know that’s what the business name would be at the time. It was just kind of like, that’s my life purpose. And this is, this is where I want to be. And it was later that I said, you know what, screw it.
[00:38:49] I’m just going to name the business this, because that’s, that’s really why I’m here. But yeah, that’s what happened, man. These three things just at that moment, I was like, how did I not see this? You know, it’s, [00:39:00] it’s been forming for 10 years. I just didn’t know it. And then boom, in that moment. So I just kind of started making plans.
[00:39:05] Like that spraying and turned in my two weeks notice, um, basically on my birthday of 2019, July 19th is my birthday. So it was right around that time, turned in my two weeks and said, thank you to Whirlpool for an amazing ride. And the Waco journey began.
[00:39:23] Daniel Powell: Well, as you often say, let’s, let’s land the plane here.
[00:39:30] And I got to ask you your trademark question. So, you know, in our lives we progress. the way we progress is by asking you questions that lead us to new perspective. So in light of everything we’ve talked about today, what question would you leave our engineers with to reflect on this coming week?
[00:39:49] Zach White: How have you created or allowed what it is that you’re experiencing in life right now?[00:40:00] Another way to say that might be a fancier way. You know, how are you complicit in the circumstances of your life? I kept a lot of things secret. And I blamed a lot of things external to myself in that first chapter of my life and the most important thing that I think shifted in my fundamental mindset, this growth mindset that became so important was realizing that I had been.
[00:40:32] More of the driving force and the creator, or, or allowing all those negative things into my world, but I didn’t want to believe that. So I would challenge listeners look at your life, the good and the bad and ask yourself, how have I created or allowed this, what was my role in this? And, take them on.
[00:40:56] Take responsibility and then take new action. [00:41:00]
[00:41:01] Daniel Powell: That’s some heavy lifting and get a friend. Get a coach. You can’t do that alone. That’s that’s heavy duty. Think about it though. Asking the question. That’s where it starts.
[00:41:13] Zach White: All right,
[00:41:13] Daniel Powell: man. Well, Hey, if people want to reach out to you, what’s the best way you always ask your guests that tell them how
[00:41:18] Zach White: to hit.
[00:41:19] Uh, what a privilege. I love it. So I would be honored to hear from anyone who wants to reach out to me directly. You know, my email address is Zach C a C [email protected] And if you already know, you want to explore support in your career in life for growth, then just jump out. Uh, website and grab a call with our team it’s career clarity, call.com.
[00:41:44] That’s a great place to just accelerate the relationship, get on the phone with us and you know, it’s a fit, then my team will get you on my calendar and we can do some free coaching together. So we’d be honored to do that with anyone who’s listening. And I hope that my story, my journey has been an encouragement to you [00:42:00] and please reach out.
[00:42:00] We’d love to hear.
[00:42:02] Daniel Powell: And Hey, I just want to add to that we’ve been working together for, for seven months. Right. And, know, I’m just your contractor. Right. But have, uh, I have absorbed some of that courage by osmosis. So yeah, if you’re wondering if Zach’s the real deal, he’s a real deal. Even working with them, you know, again, getting something good out of it.
[00:42:19] So I
[00:42:19] Zach White: appreciate that Daniel. You’re the man too, for all the listeners, you wouldn’t be able to hear this if it weren’t for Daniel Powell. So this guy is a rockstar.
[00:42:27] Daniel Powell: And one closing thing here that we should mention is. We’re probably, we are a one closing thing here that we should mention. So we got some question and answer episodes in the works.
[00:42:34] So if anybody out there has a specific situation that they’re dealing with in their career, that Zach could offer some insight and experience to record a voice memo, or just, you send Zach an email and we’d be happy to Zach would be happy to tackle that on the, on the podcast. And there’ll be details about that in the debrief right after this.
[00:42:56] Well, Hey Zach, it’s, it’s been fantastic talking today, as you [00:43:00] agreed to jump into
[00:43:00] Zach White: the hot seat, Daniel, I loved it and, uh, we’ll have to do it again some time. And I’m really excited about the Q and a format. It just stops opportunity for everybody out there who sends me questions on LinkedIn and everywhere else to get the.
[00:43:14] Uh, addressed in a more specific and personal way. And so please, please send them in. we’ll get you the details and I’m pumped. It’s going to be a really fun addition to the podcast.,