The Happy Engineer Podcast

064: How to Become WHO You Want to Become in Your Engineering Career with Jeff Perry

What is your dream for your engineering career? Who do you want to become?

How does coaching help you get there?

In this episode, fellow Engineering Career Coach and my good friend, Jeff Perry, is going to show you how.

We use real stories of real engineers to help you understand the power and practice of career coaching.

Jeff is a mechanical and software engineering leader turned leadership coach for engineers. His unique approach helps you create clarity on your goals, take ambitious action, make intentional career moves, and level-up fast.

Have you ever wondered if coaching is for you, or how to become a better coach yourself? Then this conversation is what you’ve been waiting for.

So press play and let’s chat… your free coaching session is about to begin!


>> Then join The Happy Engineer Community online and get access to bonus content and coaching in our free group >>




The Happy Engineer Podcast




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Previous Episode 063: Why Pain Produces More Growth Than Happiness Ever Could with Lilly Rachels




I really don’t talk as much as I could on the podcast about getting a coach. 

Let’s face it. It can come across as self-serving or salesy because that’s what I do. And I don’t want this podcast to just come across to you as a sales engine because we really do have a heart to serve you.

But today I have an excuse because Jeff is a coach. And a great one at that. 

He’s doing some amazing things for his clients who are out there stepping into the arena of their life, living courageously and transforming their results and their experience day by day.

Do you need a coach?

I want to make a case for why you must get the support that you need from a great coach to transform your life. 

Now, bear with me. 

You may be thinking everything in your life is fine and good, and you’re happy and you don’t need any help.

Maybe right now you don’t need a coach, but if you had one, you could accelerate the outcomes that you’re passionate about at work and at home even more.

Many of my clients have nothing wrong when they start coaching, they do it to have more right happen in their career in life. 

Here’s the truth. 95% of the horsepower in your mind comes from your subconscious. 

Your conscious mind and what you and I are actually able to access by direct, conscious thought is only 5%. That’s what we use to do things such us problem-solving or figuring things out.

If you have one of these unconscious hidden beliefs that hold you back and if your subconscious is pulling against the goals, vision and dreams that you have for your life, then despite your best efforts you’re going to feel frustrated and disappointed about the fact that you’re not making progress. 

And the reason is because 95% of who you are is pulling in a different direction.

That’s where the power of working with a coach comes into play. 

Full disclosure, I believe so much in this that I myself have multiple coaches working with me at the moment.

I will never stop investing in coaching with my time, energy and resources financially because of the power that it has to transform my life, my business, my family and my future. 

When you get together with someone who can guide you through a powerful coaching journey through the mastery of that hidden 95%, that’s when you will experience real, lasting transformation.

Don’t let your ego keep you from taking action. The ego often says “I’m smart enough to figure this out on my own.” 

Maybe, “If I listen to enough of these podcasts, I’m gonna figure out all the secrets.” 

“If I read enough of the books, then that’s all I really need.” 

Again, you may be in a great place, but it would be better if you were in a great place

Take action and get the support you need to transform your present and your future, all while in alignment with your vision and dreams.

Reach out and connect with a great coach, have some of the initial consultations and conversations to discover truly what’s possible for your life.

You will not regret it. 

I can’t wait to hear about your transformation and until then keep crushing comfort. Create courage and let’s do this.



Jeff is a mechanical and software engineering leader turned leadership/career coach for engineers. He has moved from developing products to developing people. His unique focus on mindsets help engineers get clarity on their goals, take ambitious action, make intentional career moves, and level-up their careers and lives in a holistic way! Every interaction is designed to be transformational, not transactional.




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

[00:00:00] Zach White: All right! Happy Engineers, welcome back. I am here with a good buddy and fellow coach, Jeff Perry. Jeff, thanks for making time to be on The Happy Engineer Podcast with me today, man, I’m super pumped for this. 

[00:00:12] Jeff Perry: Zach, it’s a pleasure. I always love talking to you, and the energy you bring. And excited to have this conversation.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:19] Zach White: No doubt. I, you know, Jeff, when I think about you, you’re one of those first faces that I used to spend a lot of time following on my LinkedIn feed. When I first made my transition from full-time engineering and my career into starting my business, you were like one of the other people who was doing the same kind of work that I wanted to do.

[00:00:41] And so I just feel that kindred spirit with you, and I love the content that you make. And if. You know, listening, doesn’t follow Jeff on LinkedIn. You’ll go do that immediately. He’s get some amazing content, but, is that how we first met? Was it just a LinkedIn connection? 

[00:00:55] it was. And, and I felt the same with you as I jumped into this, I think we got into a pretty similar time, like in 2019.

[00:01:01] Jeff Perry: and so. As we were both kind of diving in and trying to figure this out and, and having some fun with it. And we connected, we had a conversation early on trying to kind of learn from each other and we, we stayed connected over the years, since we’ve done that. And so, yeah, I think it just started connecting over LinkedIn, seeing each other.

[00:01:18] And, Enjoyed staying in 

[00:01:19] Zach White: touch. Yeah. Summer 2019 is when I walked out the doors of Whirlpool for the last time. And, uh, yeah, that’s so funny. So maybe, good transition opportunity. Jeff, why don’t you tell. the engineering leader, listening a little bit about your story, cuz you also have that engineering background and passion.

[00:01:36] You know me for both of us, I think you got deeper into software than I ever got. and now, now we’re kind of in the same world as coaches, but tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you’re at today. 

[00:01:47] Jeff Perry: Yeah. So, wide ranging engineering, uh, stuff. I did, I did an me degree, um, then actually, because of some connections with some undergrad research I was doing, I actually got into software right.

[00:01:58] Outta my undergrad, instead of going into like mechanical design or something like that. So me trader I, I know. Right. So right immediately, but I was still in an engineering company working for, general motors for a while. So you can appreciate that being a guy from Michigan, right. Maybe, although I lived in Texas, Cool.

[00:02:13] No, but visited Michigan a few times, but, um, we’re actually doing software around automating mechanical and, and electrical processes and systems. So think about like, A company like GM, or other, uh, automotive companies. they have engineers who are doing the same processes over and over again. And we, there are all sorts of design checks and things they need to do, to maximize results and get the right data as they’re going through different, streams of the design process and stuff like that.

[00:02:40] So we would automate creating geometry in like the CAD systems we would automate, doing all sorts of cool math behind the scenes, extracting data on GV and T and all sorts of, you know, so some of these things that mechanical engineers would understand in the design process and bring some of that out.

[00:02:56] routing electrical systems and things in the, in the cars, we would automate a lot of that stuff. So, so you’ve been writing code. Do you think any 

[00:03:03] Zach White: of that code is still in use at GM Jeff or do think it it’s probably optional , 

[00:03:07] Jeff Perry: it’s been a few years, but I’m sure the bones of some of that is for sure.

[00:03:11] Cause there were some big programs that I got to work on, that were like gonna be multi-year things, you know, beyond, just my time there, but it didn’t take me too long, to realize. Writing code all day. Just wasn’t necessarily my. Okay. And I don’t have anything against software folks, our software friends, obviously the, the industry and software continues to explode.

[00:03:32] and there’s a lot of things that, they do and we need software. Folks to do some of the great work out there these days. but it just wasn’t for me, like being at my desk, writing code all day, getting requirements from above and then executing on that wa wasn’t my deal.

[00:03:45] Jeff Perry: It wasn’t as strategic and, collaborative as what really engaged me. Personally. Right. And so I was looking for opportunities, I was actually, looking at MBA programs or, or dual MBA programs get a master’s in engineering as well. but then I had a, connection that said, Hey, uh, and I also had like little side business on the side just to try and engage me in a different way to sure explore the entrepreneurship waters.

[00:04:07] And so I had a, I had a connection said, Hey, we actually need someone like you, who’s done mechanical software can put some things together and also has kind of an entrepreneurial spirit. . And so I got a, a new job and kind of my first leadership opportunity in a smaller company, connecting with like T systems.

[00:04:22] So there was software, there was hardware and trying to build a new kind of market for some of the technologies that they had. And so I was working on product. There was some marketing aspects to it. And so I got to put on a lot of different hats and that was. Throw me into the fire, all sorts of things that I didn’t know, I needed to learn, about connecting with stakeholders and users and, creating product roadmaps and, and all those sorts of things and building teams.

[00:04:46] Yeah. but some things that were really important to me and my. Personal and leadership development along the way. And I, and I screwed up a lot. as many of us do, I didn’t, uh, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what, I didn’t know. Jeff, is there any 

[00:05:00] Zach White: particular screw up that really stands out in your mind like this?

[00:05:03] This was one of my, my major, oops, is, 

[00:05:06] so a few years into that, I actually started a, um, Part-time MBA program, the university of Washington. Okay. And, the first semester of that was in a, leadership class.

[00:05:17] Jeff Perry: And so they, they had us administer one of those 360 surveys. Okay, sure. Right. Yeah. And so I, I sent, uh, that survey to the people that report directly to me, some of my peers that I worked with and some of the people that. were my leaders and things, think it was 12 or 13 people in all, something like that.

[00:05:36] And there was a very clear theme that came out in that that said, essentially, Jeff doesn’t listen. 

[00:05:44] Zach White: oh, well, I feel 

[00:05:45] Jeff Perry: that feels good. And Jeff has ideas and he doesn’t listen our ideasyou know, he’s got an idea and he wants to, to push that forward.

[00:05:52] And that was a big eye opener for. especially interestingly enough, because a year before that I had started doing corporate training around, mindset development and things internal to the company. that was around, Hey, how do we consider other people in the work that we do? How do we approach and see people as people?

[00:06:11] and we get into some of that stuff as well. And so I was already thinking about these things, planting 

[00:06:16] Zach White: those seeds of the ultimate coach you had become, even before you got that. That feedback is what you’re 

[00:06:22] Jeff Perry: saying. Yeah, totally. And so I get this feedback and I was like, oh, okay. There’s, there’s some work I need to do.

[00:06:27] And so, grateful for planting those mindset seeds, because it opened me up to really be able to move to that process, to get some more direct feedback from my team and the people that I worked with so that, um, I could really go through those changes and ask them to help hold me accountable to making the changes so that I could be the leader that they needed 

[00:06:49] Zach White: me to.

[00:06:50] That’s amazing. Right. Um, we could probably spend the whole episode just talking about the lessons learned in that’s one moment, but if you were just gonna say like the biggest shift that changed when it came to listening and that feedback that happened at that time, what was, what was that for you? I think it was just the ability to take space and truly consider the perspectives of other people in various situations. I think before I often came in with my idea and agenda and I had it mapped out my mind and so that curse of knowledge and I was coming in and I was hoping that other people would just catch my vision.

[00:07:25] Jeff Perry: Right. Instead of seeking to understand and build something around and build the buy in through that process. Whenever we were going through a, a different, project or initiative or thing like that, And just bring people along that process. And so, uh, it was still a process I asked them to help hold me accountable.

[00:07:42] So on our, on our team boards and other areas, and on my computer, I had reminders that just said, literally just said, As, as a reminder for me, and also a reminder for them that they could help me. And, and they did quite a few times we were in meetings or other things that said, Jeff, you’re not listening right now.

[00:07:57] I was like, like, okay, you’re right. I’m gonna stop. Awesome. And, and I’m just gonna listen that’s as a lot about you felt. safe and we could have those conversations and, and they could, let me know, that, that was a big deal for me. And, and that was a big deal for them.

[00:08:11] Um, I know that I was hard for them at times. but it was important for me and, a continued reminder for me that I was committed to that change process. 

[00:08:19] Zach White: I. Huge, you know, important lesson for everybody, you know, and the engineering leader, listening to this, it’s not just about Jeff’s change and going from being bad at listening to great at listening.

[00:08:29] But the fact that you had the rapport and the trust with your team above, below, around you, that they could give you the feedback to help you improve says so much about yourself. values and just the relationships that you built, cuz so often, and you and I both experienced this, you know, we work with engineering leaders who wanna make these changes and they ask for the feedback and there’s no sense of safety and trust to give it that’s really, really important if you’re out there. Asking for feedback and you’re getting none. it’s actually a more concerning thing yeah. Than if you’re getting it. 

[00:09:05] Jeff Perry: So, yeah. So the 360 survey helped them feel a little bit safer up front, cuz it was anonymous, but that theme came up and then I brought it up and said, okay, this needs to be addressed.

[00:09:12] let’s really talk about this more in the open, cuz this is important for all of us, you know, for, for me, but also for them so they could achieve what they needed to, to achieve. Totally. Right. and as a team. And so, um, it was a, it was an important, 

[00:09:26] Zach White: for me speaks to and still stuff I work on.

[00:09:28] Yeah, exactly. I was gonna say that. I mean, it really speaks to why you’re such a great coach now. It’s like that seed of who you were was already there and just strengthening along the way. So, so fast track us through the rest. I mean, we could tell engineering stories all day, but I wanna hear, yeah. Like how did Jeff then realize, you know what, I want to go help other engineering leaders as a coach.

[00:09:46] Full-time where did that begin? 

[00:09:48] Jeff Perry: Yeah, so some of those things, some of that, uh, corporate training on mindsets and things that I got involved in sort of raised my hand. Cause there was. Consultants and, ideas that we had brought in from another company and, were gonna take that to the rest of the company and sort of raise my hands, Hey, Hey, can I do this?

[00:10:02] Can I be involved in this? So that was sort of a side gig. And then I got on my MBA and I, learned more about things and I was already recognizing that there was gonna be some shifts for me in the future. but as I thought about, I kind of got to one of these career plateaus, Where I recognized that I wasn’t necessarily doing my very best work in, in the main role that I was in.

[00:10:19] Which meant that it wasn’t great for me and it wasn’t great for the company. And so I had a really difficult conversation and I wouldn’t necessarily Remi recommend doing it this way for everyone. Okay. Okay. But it was, important for me. I had a conversation and said, Hey, this isn’t necessarily the right thing for me.

[00:10:33] and I loved the company itself. And so I said, I’d love to explore, other ways that. Organize my work to really utilize my strengths and do different things. That would be great for me and the company, if we can find something great, if not, it’s probably time for me to go and that’s okay.

[00:10:48] Jeff Perry: I was okay with that, if that was the answer. that was 2019 and, uh, we explored some things and, and, and even there was a, Proposal that went up to the executive team, for various reasons that didn’t get accepted. and so then, my leader said, okay, it’s time to go.

[00:11:03] And they were really cool about that transition process and stuff, and partially about because of the way that I had done that, like I was really trying to consider them and. that process. so moved through that but I didn’t know what was next really okay. Um, and so then went through that process.

[00:11:19] I did a lot of journaling and reflection and I’m a, I was a spiritual guys, so there was a lot of prayer involved trying to figure out what was that next step. And, there was one day I. in my journal and, and connecting, you know, a bunch of different engineering principles that I loved, and also connecting this, I had gone into this, in this training stuff and I recognized that by the way, just doing that sort of work kind of helped me.

[00:11:42] Like I came alive and I really enjoyed doing that work. And I look forward to those days more than any of the other technical stuff I was doing. And so I sort of said, Hey, I wanna do more of that. And so I sort of put these together and like, okay, maybe the engineering and the training and, and the coaching stuff together, is it?

[00:11:58] And so I started formulating what, might that look like and how, how might I deliver that sort of stuff? And there was just a day that I couldn’t stop riding. Like the ideas were just flowing. And so I sort took that as a sign and said, Hey, let’s run with this and give this a try. And so ever since then, I I’ve been trying to build what is now more than engineering.

[00:12:15] Yes. Um, you know, helping do leadership and career coaching for ambitious engineers and love doing that. So, um, that’s, 

[00:12:22] Zach White: the short story anyway. That’s really cool. And you know, Jeff, you’re being modest about the work here, more than engineering and the work that you do as the CEO and founder of that organization and the impact you’re having in the lives of engineering leaders who really do.

[00:12:37] The support in the transformation, in their careers and in their lives is awesome. And so that said, let’s shift the focus away from Jeff’s story for a moment, because one of the things I’m excited to hear from you, and I know the engineering leaders who listen to the happy engineer podcast are gonna get tremendous value from is to hear the stories and the, the things that change and shift in the lives of your clients everybody feels like I’m. Sometimes with our challenges, even though cognitively we know we’re not the only one who’s suffered in life, when you’re in the trenches. A lot of times it feels like I’m the only ones suffering here. And sure. I think you just bring such a powerful perspective on who else has been there and how you’ve helped them move through those things.

[00:13:18] So, open slate, man. Tell us about what is the work like and what are you seeing in, industry and with working with engineers and the kinds of places they get stuck and how you help them through it. Yeah, 

[00:13:31] Jeff Perry: Zach. So just real quick before we dive, too far into that, cause I know probably a lot of our listeners are doing other things, working out or, or, or driving or something.

[00:13:39] So, and so we’re gonna be talking about a lot of stories and a lot of principles. So I put something together just for happy engineer or Waco followers that they can go check out some things. So if people wanna go get some of the resources, some of the ideas we’re gonna be talking about today, Go to and, and go grab that.

[00:13:58] And, and so I just wanna point people to that, to some of the ideas that we’re gonna be talking about here today. 

[00:14:03] Zach White: So, um, so don’t stop driving to type that into your phone right now. Yeah. Just remember we’ll remind later the link will be we’ll hot link it right there in the show notes and make sure it’s everywhere.

[00:14:14] You can find it, but thank Jeff. That’s awesome. Thanks for putting that together, man. 

[00:14:17] video1172315215: Yeah, 

[00:14:17] Jeff Perry: exactly. really, it comes down to me about, you know, transformation. Like, I don’t want anyone who comes to work with me and with more than engineering to feel like this is just a transaction that, they’re investing some money and, and hopefully they get something out of it and, and great.

[00:14:34] But, but I really wanna design the experience so that people feel like there’s a transformation. Like I want them to be different, operate differently and feel differently about themselves, about their lives, about their careers on the other side of this. but what that transformation looks. Is a little bit different.

[00:14:51] you know, for every person, cause every person’s different. Yeah. What they’re trying to do, where they’re at in their lives and their careers, what they’re trying to accomplish. So just to, to give a few, taste here. So, so some people are really early in their careers trying to figure out, what they’re gonna go.

[00:15:04] Jeff Perry: Like, one guy who, graduated with his master’s degree in mechanical engineering, but then got hit with the pandemic and couldn’t find a job opportunity and stuff like that. Literally working minimum wage at a gas station with a master’s in mechanical engineering and couldn’t find a job, talk about like mismatching of like resources and potential there.

[00:15:23] Right. and so he was dealing with anxiety and, and, crippling student loans and, and all sorts of things. but we shifted things from his mindset and how we approached. what he was doing things and ended up with multiple job offers and career opportunities excited about got promoted in less than eight months.

[00:15:39] Oh, wow. And, and, uh,We were working together. He had sort of created like a vision board, for himself and he sort of had a dream car on there. And so I asked him later, like, Hey, did you ever end up buying that dream car? He’s like, yeah, I did. I did. Um, so, so even like, things like that, right?

[00:15:53] So that’s, that’s one let me stop on that for a second, because it’s super. I guess synchronicity is the word that comes to mind. Mm-hmm literally today before we got together for this conversation, one of my clients who’s, currently unemployed because of unfortunate circumstances sure.

[00:16:10] Zach White: Was asking about like, what do I do? What do I do? And, the conversation, goes all over the place. And then the, the thought was mentioned, like, You know, do I have to just go get a job to pay bills until I can figure this out? And there was that moment of kind of awkward pause, like all of the ego and esteem and, challenges about like, what does that mean for me to do that?

[00:16:32] If I go just work at a gas station, like your client, and it was just fascinating, cuz it’s like, maybe I need to do that in the short term to just bridge a gap until I find my next opportunity. But there was so much. Guilt and shame kind of built up around the idea of ever doing it. So I just feel compelled to acknowledge, you know, your client and, and, you know, of course keep it anonymous, but it’s like really powerful that they were willing to have the courage to say, I’m gonna do whatever it takes to kind of get through this awkward place while I’m in the pandemic, can’t find work.

[00:17:04] But to your point, Jeff, and what I wanted to ask you about in that. , it does take a toll on your identity when you get into that place. That’s nothing like who you thought you would be when you graduate or, you know, for my client, it’s someone who’s got, 20 years of experience and now is facing that same challenge.

[00:17:22] So can you just describe, and I love, like it’s not a transaction, it’s a transformation. what is the early steps or as a coach, how do you help somebody? Shift that identity that, Hey, just because you’re at a gas station now, doesn’t mean that’s all of who you are or that, this you’re doomed your destiny is, is ruined.

[00:17:43] Like what is that like to shift and transform your mindset? I think it’s this process of really identifying who you’re trying to become and, and where you’re trying to get to. so you’re totally right. Like he was in this space where he had taken an identity hit. cause he was a, he was a solid engineer, you know, had gone through some good educational experiences.

[00:18:02] Jeff Perry: And done a lot of like side projects and, and was one of those people was really involved and connected and, engaged and learning and growing and things like that. But, here he was, doing this sort of work and taking a hit. He was like, is this, is this all there is, is this all I’m, good for, for a while.

[00:18:17] that’s the, the mindset he was in there for a while. but he started to let go. of this identity he’d started to take on and start to reignite almost the identity that he had as an ambitious engineer, of where, what he wanted to do and the types of work that he wanted to be involved in and the impact that he wanted to have and he started to work on.

[00:18:39] and other side projects started building portfolios started sharing and having more conversations. and he got some other mentors and had, he started networking and having informational interviews and things and sort, instead of just like, Hey, I’m just like hanging out in, in the gas station every day.

[00:18:55] Jeff Perry: And that’s where he was at for a while. Hey, I’m someone who I can talk to and, grow and, and connect with people in different ways. and he was designing things. He was building stuff. and he rekindled that identity yeah. Of who was trying to become operating from that’s the person who he was.

[00:19:12] and then, the results came I love that it starts, you know, taking that and I know you’re, you’re big on having courage and taking big actions and things like that. Absolutely. Something that’s big on you. And I, and I say the same thing you know, operating from.

[00:19:25] Jeff Perry: Who am I trying to become? How do I need to operate today to be that person? Really? Yeah. And, um, that’s super cool. I’ve seen that process every 

[00:19:33] Zach White: day. And, and honestly, Jeff, just to hammer the point home, like this is why partnering with a guide, a coach, someone who can come alongside and help you, cuz it’s really tough alone.

[00:19:44] Yeah. In that place where you are in that false identity that, you know, broken identity. That’s not who you wanna be. Mm-hmm . Just self-medicate your way back to who, who you can become. And, you know, mm-hmm, , I see it over and over again, especially engineers. We have a lot of ego I’ll speak for myself. I have a lot of ego I did as an engineer.

[00:20:01] I still, my coach continues to humble me around that. Yeah. it can be tough to, to do that. So I think, again, kudos to you and the work you’re doing with that client. Where else to give us more examples, man, I love 

[00:20:12] Jeff Perry: this. Yes. This is fun to, and, and hopefully some of the listeners see themselves in some of these stories.

[00:20:17] Right. had another client experienced engineer was in the military for a long time and then worked in various technological industries. He was at this place and the way that he described it to me, he’s like, I wanna find my happy place in my career.

[00:20:33] And I don’t know what that is, but I want to figure that out. And so he was trying to find clarity around, like, what did that look like? and how do I operate here? and he thought. Right. That that would probably mean a change in his environment, a different job. Okay. Okay. Because he wasn’t happy where he was at at the time he was in, he was in a relatively new job, eight or nine months at the time when we first started chatting.

[00:20:58] so we thought that, okay, this job isn’t really working out, it’s gonna be something different. but as we started working together, he realized that it wasn’t as much about the environment that he was in as much. Who he was in that environment. Ooh. So, so his mindsets, how he approached the work that he did and how he approached the people and the relationships that he was working with, was some of the things that were keeping him unhappy at the time.

[00:21:26] Jeff Perry: Okay. And so can you 

[00:21:28] Zach White: repeat that statement? That was like that Twitter quotable moment, because that’s a really powerful thing. It’s it? Wasn’t the environment say that part. 

[00:21:36] Jeff Perry: Yeah. So it wasn’t as much about the environment that he was in that was keeping him down. It was about who he was in that environment that was keeping him down.

[00:21:47] Hopefully I said that, right? Yeah. 

[00:21:48] video1172315215:

[00:21:48] Zach White: mean, mean it’s such a powerful distinction, Jeff, and right. I just wanted you to repeat it, put an exclamation point on that because right. I can imagine, you know, the engineering leader who’s listening right now probably can think of multiple things in their environment.

[00:22:04] Consciously or subconsciously we believe, you know, mm-hmm, they believe if that changes, then I will feel happier, more fulfilled less stress, whatever. It’s really easy to fall into that trap of, I just need to change all the external things that I see in my environment. Right. So that I can feel this way.

[00:22:25] But what you’re saying is, for this client and maybe the challenge to, to me and to the listener here, is it possible that how I’m showing up in that environment, who I’m being in that environ is, is the actual root of the unsatis 

[00:22:39] Jeff Perry: field. Yeah. And so some of that was actually changing his. Beliefs about himself.

[00:22:45] Um, cuz he had felt he had had experiences in his life, in his career where he’d felt burned. Okay. And so he was afraid of really putting himself out there in different ways. and taking on some risks and things. Um, cause he’s like, Hey, if I do that, I’m probably getting it burned again. or he felt like he.

[00:23:03] Didn’t have a lot of value to give. These are some of the things that he was believing about himself, which then reinforces the idea that I’m not doing great work and I’m not getting the feedback and I’m not getting the, progression that I want. You know, that’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So again, shifting his mindset to.

[00:23:21] Who we wanted to be, who we wanted to come, how he was gonna operate, changed, how we then interacted with people. He started finding, uh, one of the things that he said was, was really interesting or really impactful for him that I work with people a lot. Is this idea of finding a genius stone. Okay. Okay.

[00:23:37] a genius stone is this idea of like, where do you do your best? what are the combinations of skills or experiences or interests in things that combine in a unique way that makes you uniquely different? so Zach, you and I are really easy way to think about this.

[00:23:53] Jeff Perry: Hey, we have this vast engineering background. We also love the training and the coaching stuff. You put that together. We can do this great work with, with engineers and engineering leaders. Right. So that’s something that, that we have uniquely that, that not a lot of people in the world do. Sure. Yeah. that’s a very simple example.

[00:24:08] but he recognized that. He really struggled when a project or technology or something was in kind of main maintenance mode. And he was just sort of like in there, keeping things running and responding to, quality issues and stuff like that. Right. where he looked back on his experiences in the past recognized where he was really engaged, where he was Really doing great work and was delivering excellent value was when these were Greenfield ambiguous, new projects and he was able to build the new processes, the business process and the technology processes to help that really start well from the beginning.

[00:24:50] Jeff Perry: And, he hadn’t recognized that before, which then meant that he. Look for opportunities in the business, in his work to do more of that work and raise his hand when he saw those opportunities to engage in some of those things. And then by the way, a few months later after he had changed his approach and he was much happier even in the work that he was doing, then, then he had another opportunity with another company he was even more excited about.

[00:25:14] and now he’s, he’s thriving discussion even more. So he did end up changing his environment, but he changed himself first and then was able to thrive in that new environment even more. 

[00:25:23] Zach White: That’s such a common thread. When you talk about transformation that I see and believe in. It’s like when we do that inner work and you shift at the level of your identity and being, and mindset and the beliefs, everything you just said, Jeff, it’s like the outward manifestation of that just continues to compound and accelerate when you do the hard work, the inner work first mm-hmm such a cool example.

[00:25:48] One of the things you said that I. Touch back on, cuz I think it relates to a lot of engineers was the idea of how being burned in the past creates this, self-fulfilling prophecy is the word you used. You know, I, I think I call it a self-fulfilling belief cycle, the same, same concept. most of us you had know of at least one or two of these, but all of us.

[00:26:12] have the ones that are in the background, the subconscious or the hidden, beliefs or places where we’ve been wounded or burned in the past, that’s impacting how we show up today. Mm-hmm and I think for me, I’ll just speak from my own experience. What I love about working with my coach is that that process of, of really working through the hard spaces together brings those things into the, the foreground where I can see, oh, Because, so, and so treated me this way.

[00:26:40] One time, a long time ago, I’ve been treating everybody in my world in this self-limiting way and, or been treating 

[00:26:49] Jeff Perry: myself in that self limiting way. 

[00:26:51] Zach White: Exactly. And so I think that’s such an important thing to recognize it’s like is there’s probably places. the engineering leader listening right now is not aware of where they’ve been burned and it has impacted your actions and therefore limits your results.

[00:27:06] And so. Highlight that part of the story. I think that’s really, really powerful for your client to become aware of that mm-hmm and then have the courage to go actually do it different to show up differently in the workplace, which is not trivial, to become a new person and then act on it. I mean, that really is the beat potatoes, right.

[00:27:22] It’s awareness is great, but if they don’t actually change, so, I mean, just really awesome. Kudos to your client. 

[00:27:28] you know, you’re talking about the, bringing the subconscious to, to making it conscious, right? So the book, um, I’ll recommend it to folks and I’ve taken a lot from called immunity to change, from a couple Harvard psychologists.

[00:27:41] you know, think about the idea of that title, right? So there’s, there’s something like in a change that we’re trying to make in our lives, but, but there’s something internal, that’s almost like this immunity that that’s fighting against that. So it’s almost like your, your got your, foot on the brake and your foot on the gas pedal at the same.

[00:28:00] Jeff Perry: Right. And so you’re not actually moving, even though you’re trying to make a change, you’ve got your foot on the gas, but something internal is subconscious belief systems are keeping us back. and it, and it’s. The first time where I found laid out like a, a real, like step by step process to move through a mindset.

[00:28:15] That’s cool change. And so I’ve used this with a number of clients that essentially is the idea of like, okay, how do we, they call it doing it, going through an x-ray process. Like let’s, see through that and understand. what are those internal beliefs and commitments and assumptions that we might be making that might be holding us back from that change.

[00:28:32] So bring those things up to the awareness and then is the process to actually go through a series of tests. Okay. So we’re essentially taking assumptions or beliefs that we have, And engineers like this, essentially moving through the scientific method. Yeah. Saying, is this true? Can I design a test to see if this is actually true and then collect data to, to see if this actually holds true and more often than not, that test does not actually hold true.

[00:29:00] That belief that we’ve been holding on, isn’t actually true. to give another example, I’ve done this, with another engineering leader who he is actually, he owns a, an engineering services business. has been building it, building the business and bringing in new team members and things.

[00:29:14] But. because he started it kind of on his own or originally, he had this, feeling like if I don’t do it, it’s not gonna be done quite right. And he, so he took on all the responsibilities, on himself rather than building things in such a way that he could delegate and let go of some of the client relationships, some of the work, some of the deliverables and really letting people own things.

[00:29:38] Um, as you was building the business, which meant that. He was losing his, free time in terms of time with his wife and kid and sure. And other things he wanted to do. 

[00:29:47] Zach White: So I, I imagine there’s no engineering leaders who are ever gonna relate to that. So this is a very one off, very unique. Yeah. He’s the 

[00:29:55] Jeff Perry: only one.

[00:29:56] Yeah. He’s the only one. Right. And so, um, so we had to go through this x-ray process and uncover, what is it? Really was holding him back. Some of those things was like, Hey, this beliefs kinda these, if then statements, if I don’t do it, it won’t be done. Right. Or it won’t be done on time. And so there was this lack of trust there.

[00:30:17] He was experiencing, there, there were some other assumptions beliefs that he had as well. and so we had to uncover that and then we moved through some actions that he could take and he started journaling regularly to kind of look at it at a daily basis saying, okay, how did I do today did I take on everything?

[00:30:33] Was I able to let go? you know, some of the things he was also working on was being present, even letting go of work and instead of going back to it all day, every day and things like that. Right. Um, so when it was family time, was he present in that family time? Yeah. Able to take care of those things.

[00:30:49] A daily reflection that he started doing. and he told me later, he is like, Hey, we, we landed this new project with this new client. and I set things up from the beginning with a couple of my employees to, to take care of things. And they were just gonna own that. I set that relationship, but from the beginning, he’s like a couple months before that, that never would’ve been possible, uh, before some of the works that he did.

[00:31:09] and that was gonna free up hours. Every week for him to be able to, to do that. Yeah. And so that’s amazing. so that’s just another example there, but he had to uncover those, beliefs about not just like having confidence himself, cuz for him, he had no lack of confidence in his ability.

[00:31:27] Jeff Perry: Right? his thing was, if he didn’t do. Then something was gonna go wrong and that was gonna lose business or have quality issues or something like that. if he didn’t own it. So we really struggled with the letting go piece 

[00:31:43] Zach White: there. I think there’s something about what you just described for all of us.

[00:31:47] you use the phrase that was not possible before, right? That, that engineering leader, this, this super confident, super capable business owner with an engineering background, you know, who can solve any problem, but something as simple as delegating that full responsibility and authority clearly upfront was not possible.

[00:32:07] Zach White: And it’s, it’s easy to say, well, okay. That’s not true. Like it was totally possible the whole time. That’s exactly true because the belief and the limitations. Will create the boundary of possibility for you. And I think this is hugely important to, you know, you talked like right out of the gate about this is not about transactions.

[00:32:26] It’s about transformation. when you say transformation, like what I talk about, that’s the example, you know, it was literally not possible before mm-hmm and by doing that work, it became possible, that is a transformational outcome and we all have that kind of potential mm-hmm and that’s what I love.

[00:32:46] the great work of coaching that you do, Jeff, it’s like, yeah, you’re helping these leaders find the places where they’re currently bumping up against what’s possible for them. And to have that breakthrough and transformation, that’s suddenly a whole different level of results as possible.

[00:32:59] And 

[00:33:00] Jeff Perry: by the way, what’s possible for him is the engineering leader. And what’s possible for his employees because in this new way of operating, he’s helping them to grow and develop in new ways that wouldn’t be possible for them in his previous way of operat. It’s super true. So, so it’s not just him, it’s everyone that’s benefiting from this new way of, of operating.

[00:33:21] cuz they develop and grow the skills that they need and are really entrusted to do that great work. Yeah. Which they’re capable of, but it wouldn’t have been possible for them to operate like that. Because he wasn’t setting them up for success, which is one of the reason he was holding him back because, you know, and so, so some of those things, so anyway, I love that.

[00:33:40] Jeff Perry: So it’s just best for everyone. And in the end best for the clients that he was delivering. 

[00:33:44] Zach White: Yes. And I know you’ll agree with this, Jeff and my energy’s getting all excited now as we talk about transformation. Yeah. But. We’ve been using the phrase engineering leader a lot today, and I just wanna take the unspoken and make it really clear and say it mm-hmm that it doesn’t matter where you’re at on the org chart.

[00:34:01] It doesn’t matter if you own the business or if you’re the new hire, the very bottom of the, totem pole, like the truth of being. An engineering leader is that you’re all leaders and this impact that ripples through the organization and your world is true, regardless of where you’re at. 

[00:34:19] If it’s your family, that’s impacted your community. your peers, your boss, it can be the people up the ladder that get impacted when you transform the world around you transforms, you know, so don’t think like, oh, this doesn’t apply to me. If I’m not the owner, that’s not true. 

[00:34:34] I, I don’t know if you wanna add anything to that. I just wanted to say it in case somebody, you know, engineering leader, listening to this is like, oh, I’m, I’m a rookie. Maybe one day, no, it 

[00:34:42] Jeff Perry: starts, it doesn’t matter. Leadership, isn’t a title. It’s, it’s your ability to, to influence and help and serve.

[00:34:47] no matter where you are in a business, in an organization or in your community, in your family, You can be a leader. And, and I think we, we, we both agree with that. Um, but, but it’s, this is more about who you are, right? Yeah. And you’re becoming 

[00:35:00] Zach White: super good, man.

[00:35:01] We could tell stories all day, Jeff, and I wanna keep rolling, but I, just in the interest of time sure. You know, I hope that the principles that you’re sharing people are latching onto and you know, maybe you. Yourself in the stories Jeff’s telling, don’t just listen, passively, take this and really ask yourself, you what do I see in that identity?

[00:35:21] hit of the gas station employee. Who’s got a master’s in engineering, you know, where has my identity been hit lately? And, and is there a place I need to transform? You know, I wanna get to my happy place and I’m trying to do that by changing everything around me. Maybe I need to change myself, where is that possibly true, this kind of, if then, limiting beliefs of a business owner, where have you set up some rules or some, uh, assumptions that maybe we need to test and work through if that’s actually true, super powerful work.

[00:35:51] Zach White: And maybe I’ll ask back to that original statement. We were talking about the difference between transaction and transformation, in your words, Jeff, how do you. Define that transformation. what makes it one versus the other in Jeff’s words? 

[00:36:08] when I set up, when I start working with any of my clients in the very first coaching session, we do, we set up and clarify their definition of success.

[00:36:18] Jeff Perry: What does success look like to them? One of the ways we think about it, like, okay, think about a year, two years from now three years from now, I did this thing with Jeff. I did this coaching program. I’m really grateful that I did that. because I got these sorts of results and I changed or learned, these sorts of things.

[00:36:35] And we trying to define that and they don’t always have all the answers to what that really looks like in that first session. We can go back to that over time, to make sure that we’re really aligned in, we’re trying to define early on and set a positive. Positively framed goal. Yeah. What they’re doing because, positively framed outcomes are so much more powerful than negatively framed things.

[00:36:58] Hey, I’m trying to get out of this situation or I’m trying to avoid this or I don’t wanna be underpaid or unhappy, like, okay, that that’s fine. We can identify that. But what is the positive end of that? How do we frame that in a positive way? So we can move towards something yes. That we’re really excited about rather than just moving away from something that.

[00:37:17] You know that we’re not happy with. Right. And so we’re trying to, so I allow every person to define that transformation. Essentially. I love it because it’s a personalized process and, and something that they, they get to, they get to move through and everyone’s a little bit different. And so we get to define that, that transformation and then try and stay aligned through the process to, to work through that.

[00:37:36] Zach White: That’s really cool. So it’s, it’s really not even about Jeff’s words. It’s what you see as transformation for your own. And then working with your coach to make that happen. I love it. Exactly, exactly. Jeff. Well, first thing I know everybody’s gonna want to get in touch with you. You already mentioned this amazing free resource.

[00:37:55] We’re gonna put that link, but if somebody wants to just reach out and find more about. The work that you’re doing and more than engineering, where’s the best place for folks to get connected with 

[00:38:04] Jeff Perry: you? Yeah. So that link one more time and that’s the best place I point people to and make sure to put the for OACO listeners and the happy engineer listeners.

[00:38:16] Um, and then, uh,I can be found on LinkedIn and, and connect with me there and, and always happy to, to connect there. That’s the best place I point people to 

[00:38:24] Zach White: right now. Okay. Well, I wanna finish where we always finish in this show and you and I doing similar work and being kindred spirits and, and helping engineers grow and develop and lead aligned with their own transformation.

[00:38:40] You know, those questions, we ask really matter questions, lead answers, follow. So for that engineering leader, who’s listening right now. If they wanna experience transformation in their life. What is the best question you would lead them with today? 

[00:38:56] Jeff Perry: Yes. We’ve talked a lot about transformation. So the question I’d say is who do you want to become?

[00:39:02] and this comes from the ideas of like, um, you know, Steven arch Covey and the seven habits. but like start with the end in mind, what is that? Person or the outcomes and the things that you’re trying to accomplish, who you’re trying to be, trying to become a person you’re trying to transform you and therefore transform the outcomes and the results that you get in your life.

[00:39:21] Jeff Perry: But who do you want to become in your career, in your family, in your community? What does that look like? start with the end in mind. and if you can start to frame that, then again, we can start to then operate from trying to be that person. Now rather than feeling like, Hey, I gotta get all the way to retirement before I can finally enjoy the, good life.

[00:39:44] But what can you do from the kind of person you want to build? And now who do you want to become? it is a great question that opens up the space in the mind to think about what, what that might look like. And then you can start taking action to become it. I 

[00:39:55] Zach White: love it. I’ll say it again.

[00:39:57] If you need help on the, how to get to that place, reach out to Jeff, get the support you need and engaged because it’s no fun to sit still. especially after asking a powerful question like that, and you start to get a sense of that vision, you know, start taking action. So I know Jeff will be happy to help you.

[00:40:13] And can’t say enough about how great the work is that he’s doing and you won’t regret it. So, Jeff, thanks again for making time to be here. This has been.