The Happy Engineer Podcast

066: Q&A #3 with Zach White – The Best Morning Routines for Engineering Leaders and Advice for Student Engineers

You ask the questions, and host Zach White answers! Enjoy the third edition of our new Q&A series. In this episode, you asked me about morning routines (what is most important, and to share my own routine!), and what advice I would have for the Happy Engineers who are still in college (given what I know now). Thank you to Nick, a Director of Engineering in Software Development, and Maria, a college student at the University of Michigan studying Mechanical Engineering, for sending me your questions! So press play and let’s chat… it’s time to get some answers.   >> Then join The Happy Engineer Community online and get access to bonus content and coaching in our free group >> JOIN THE HAPPY ENGINEER COMMUNITY!

The Happy Engineer Podcast




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You ask the questions, and host Zach White answers!  Enjoy the third edition of our Q&A series for engineering career growth and leadership.

Question #1

From Nick, director of engineering. It seems like everybody talks about the importance of having a good morning routine, but there are some coaches out there that say that morning routines don’t matter. Zach. What do you believe about morning routines and what are the most important aspects of a morning routine? First of all, people out there who are raging against morning routines, I think they’re just looking for a controversial point of view to attract you in their marketing. There’s always gonna be an exception to the rule, but I don’t see any substantial amount of evidence that suggests that just starting your day with no intention, structure or focus is the best way to start your day. I am an absolute believer in the morning routine. Sleep is your daily reset.  A good sleep is important for the physical systems of your body, but also mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. You wake up literally in your most comfortable zone, your bed.   And at this point it’s your job to get yourself out of your comfort zone and do the things that will accelerate the results that you want in your life. And the first 30 to 90 minutes of the day is unique in setting you up for success in creating focus and in creating a positive energy to carry you through your best day.  That’s the starting point.  Check out this part of the video if you want to find out what my morning routine looks like.

Question #2

From Maria, student of engineering. What advice or tips do you have for those of us still in college? Is there anything that you would do differently based on what you know now? 1) Reconsider just going after the grades Something I wish I had done differently is not focusing so much on always pursuing the high grades.  While that served me well in some ways, it also left A LOT on the table because I could have used more focus on really understanding the principles and how to apply the material. In summary, allow yourself to fall in love with the principles and the material.  2) Go to office hours.  I see so many engineers nowadays that are afraid of speaking to superiors. At school, office hours are your opportunity to practice just walking in the room with somebody who you see as a superior and realize that you just can have a chat. Don’t be afraid to hang out with your professors.  I wish I had done more of that because it helps you discover how all that you do as homework actually plays out out there in the real world.  3) Fewer groups, bigger impact. Back in my Whirlpool days, I did a lot of hiring of college grads. And one of the things that I saw a lot was resumes packed with activities. And here’s the deal. If all you’re doing is showing up to a bunch of parties and member meetings and different things for all these groups you paid your dues and you got your permission to put it on your resume, but you didn’t actually move the needle on anything of impact in those organizations.  To me, that’s not impressive. Instead, show me (imagine I was to hire you) something meaningful you accomplished. Something that came as a result of you having put your heart and soul into it. 4) Look at yourself as a whole person.  You will not just be your engineering career. You will (or might) also be a parent, a spouse, and you will have interests outside of your profession. At OACO we do coaching for engineering leaders around the concept of how to create career success without suffering burnout and becoming one dimensional, working too much, or really only achieving success in your career, but your marriage falls apart or your health falls apart. So, if you’re still in your youth and these things are not an issue yet, my advice is to start looking at yourself as a whole person in all the different facets of your life, not just you the engineer.


Zach White is known around the world for changing the game in career coaching for engineering leaders.  He has worked with hundreds of leaders at all levels 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 Engineer, and your coach.  Connect with him online and schedule a call to build your career, balance your life, and BE HAPPY!




Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations. [00:00:00] Zach White: Okay, let’s do this happy engineers. Welcome back it’s time for Q and A number three. And that means my good buddy and the band who makes me sound good every single week, Daniel Powell is back. Daniel, how you doing, man? What is up  [00:00:15] Daniel Powell: Zach! It’s good to be here. Good to be back. 

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:18] Zach White: How about Q and a number two, man, some awesome questions. [00:00:21] I enjoyed that. Tremendously.  [00:00:23] Daniel Powell: Yeah, those were some really good questions. Oh, I felt the pain of those questions, you know, asking for raises and, oh, just trying to find a work life balance without compromising your, your, your standing and your reputation.  [00:00:38] Zach White: Ooh, totally, totally. I feel those in my chest. We feel the pain. [00:00:42] So if, the engineering leader listening, if you missed Q and a. Go back, check it out. You can join us in feeling the pain, but maybe you have some pain today related to, , our questions we’re gonna dig into. And this will be exactly what you need and or great opportunity for a shameless plug send in your questions. [00:00:59] If you’re in pain right now, you could be featured on Q and a four. So we’d love to hear what you need.  [00:01:04] Daniel Powell: And audio questions get priority, what voice memo. So if you’re really in pain, go into your closet, record a voice memo. Yeah. If you’re comfortable recording it, like in your office, do that. But depending on the question, you know, you might need to. [00:01:20] Quarter from  [00:01:20] Zach White: the closet. So whatever we know, everybody loves to hear Daniel’s beautiful voice on the podcast, but we’d love to hear yours too engineers. So send us your questions in an audio format. Daniel made a commitment. Last time you get first dips on being featured in the Q and a episodes. If you send it in that way. [00:01:35] So there it is now, you know, So before  [00:01:38] Daniel Powell: we dig into the pain, Zach, we need to dig into the celebration because we always want to prioritize that positive movement in taking action. So who, who can celebrate with us this week?  [00:01:51] Zach White: The list is long. But, you know, let me preface this with saying, if you’re out there, maybe your company’s in a hiring freeze or you’re feeling some uncertainty or, fear around what’s happening with, macroeconomics and what’s going on in the world these days, and companies are tightening belts and whatever. [00:02:08] There’s a lot to look at that’s negative. And so it’s important for us to remember. There are opportunities out there. Engineering leaders are creating results every single week and we get to celebrate with them. And we’re seeing that. And I’ll just shout out a couple of names. You know, Lavinya landed her lead engineer promotion in a new organization, got that technical leader position. [00:02:29] She wanted. Kudos great work. And for her stepping way, outta her comfort zone, acting with courage to go out and crush those interviews and take on a role. That’s gonna require a whole new set of skills for her. Didn’t wait till she was a hundred percent ready, said, you know what? [00:02:45] I’ve got enough and I’m gonna go make a happen. So Lavana, great job. My man, Kurt went out for those who heard Q and a two, ask him about getting a raise. Took a case to his leader and said, I’m driving more value than I’m getting compensated for and got a raise, handled right there within role. [00:03:04] It only took him a few weeks to get it done. And so kudos occurred for taking his value to the organization and getting that, that raise without a new role or a promotion or title change or anything else. And Anthony landed his dream job at Amazon. So kudos to Anthony, really proud of. This guy went all in, put his best foot forward in preparing, but it’s not just about technical skills folks. [00:03:30] It was the mindset work. It was the confidence building and it paid off. So he’s, crushing it in his first 90 days at Amazon. We could keep going, but I’ll stop there. So well done. Lavinya Kurt Anthony and everybody else who didn’t get mentioned. We love you so proud of you. Keep crushing comfort, create courage every day. [00:03:50] before we dig in here, that’s, that’s some really REL relevant comments that you made about, companies tightening budgets and everything. What’s uh, what’s it like out there right now? What are you hearing from your clients?  [00:04:01] Zach White: You know, Everybody is asking the same core questions what’s happening in the world at large. [00:04:09] What does the next 12 24 36 months really look like? by definition, a recession is two quarters of GDP contractions. You could easily argue we’re in a recessionary period already. And what does that mean for the strategies? For the budgets for the way we handle capital, et cetera, top leaders and managers of the organizations are facing these questions, these longer term questions, and those things trickle down. [00:04:33] To the projects and to the hiring and the work that happens, for sure at the director manager levels, but even in the IC roles that engineering leaders out there have day in and day out. And frankly, you, one of the biggest immediate impacts is uncertainty and engineers. Let’s face it. I am one. I get it. [00:04:51] I’m right there with you. Like. We don’t operate at our best in a climate of deep uncertainty, you know, is the project gonna get funded or not get funded? Is something gonna get canceled? Are people gonna get fired? Is there gonna be a restructuring? All of those things that create uncertainty, those are happening all over in big volumes, everybody’s experiencing deep uncertainty. And so that’s one thing for sure. And then as far as specific things, I’m hearing Daniel, lots of companies are in a, period of a hiring freeze, even though talent seems to be shuffling and, and this great resignation still happening. [00:05:26] I’m hearing more people say, Hey, budgets are tight. we’re tightening the belt, hiring freezes on, et cetera. So I’m hearing that. And then the other piece. as far as salaries and the pay that people want, there was a period there where money was getting thrown around like crazy, yeah. To get people hired bonuses that were through the roof and stock options and, salaries growing really quickly. [00:05:51] And I’m hearing some pullback on that, that companies are not willing to just throw money at the problem as much as they were say, six or 12 months ago. Again, these are broad brush statements. But there’s always exceptions and each individual’s experience may be different, I guess the big thing for me is just recognize your senior team. [00:06:11] Or if you are that, senior chief leader, we’re asking those long term questions. And anytime we get into that fear or sense of change on the horizon, that’s gonna trickle down and create some tough environments for those people doing the work. I’ll end it with this statement too, Dan. Cause this is really true and I’m glad you brought it up and here’s a quality that. [00:06:34] Incredibly successful leader engineer or not has in common is the ability to create certainty from a place of uncertainty, the ability to create certainty, where there is none is a quality of amazing visionary leaders in all domains. we call it faith and mindset. If it’s this courage and visionary leadership where, you make that declarative stand for what you believe, even if we might be wrong, but you send, send that conviction into the team, they trust you and they follow you, even though it’s really unclear. [00:07:13] What’s ahead. That’s a quality that great leaders have. And so for anybody facing these uncertain times, Let’s reframe that and recognize it gives you an opportunity to step up as a leader and be the person who has confidence and certainty when by all reasonable realistic measures, there is none. for engineers who can do that, disguise the limit for you and your career. [00:07:39] So let’s dig into our questions for this week. Zach, we have. Good ones. These are my favorite yet. So I’m really excited about these. All right. the first comes from Nick and Nick is a director of engineering and here’s what Nick asks us. [00:08:01] Daniel Powell: It seems like everybody talks about the importance of having a good morning routine, but there are some coaches out there that say that morning routines don’t matter. Zach. What do you believe about morning routines and what are the most important aspects of a morning routine? And do you have a, do you personally have one you’re willing to share? [00:08:23] Zach White: Hmm, this is, this is such a big topic. I don’t know how much time we wanna spend today. We got two hours. Is that right? Daniel? Three hours. uh, we got 45 minutes. Uh, let’s slow it down sec. Okay. Wow. So, so there’s, first of all, I’ll just say my personal opinion is that the people out there who are raging against morning routines, I think they’re just looking for a controversial point of view to attract you in their marketing and. [00:08:53] Of course, there’s always gonna be an exception to the rule, but I don’t see any substantial amount of evidence that suggests that just starting your day willy-nilly with no intention and no structure and no, actual focus is the best way to start the day on the whole for the majority of the population. [00:09:12] So I am an absolute believer in the morning routine. I’m sure people who say otherwise have their reasons or their points. And there may be some, some truth buried in there. and by no means, am I saying if you don’t have one you’re doomed for failure, I just see it as an X factor that can create really positive outcomes. [00:09:30] So let me unpack, Y I believe that a couple of principles, you know, when you sleep, there’s a lot of resetting that happens over. Both in your body in terms of healing and, allowing the cells to recover it, good sleep is important for the physical systems of your body, but also mentally, spiritually, emotionally, we wake up in a, a bit of a reset. [00:09:53] And for me, I like to think of that reset as waking up. in the middle of my comfort zone. yeah. When I roll out bed, not only are those sheets and that warm bed, so comfortable and cozy, and you just don’t even really wanna get out and face the world sometimes. But the way that I’m thinking, the automatic subconscious part of me is in charge when I roll out a bit. [00:10:16] And if we. Become conscious. If we don’t use that 5% of our mind, the conscious mind to create some intention and focus, then you’re gonna be driven all day long on autopilot. And so the first thing for me, that’s important is to recognize if I wanna get outta my comfort zone and do the things that will accelerate the results that I want in life. [00:10:37] I need to set some intentions and get conscious in the morning. Get really clear on what I wanna focus on otherwise. Again, autopilot wins every single time. The habits and decisions of the subconscious mind are really difficult to resist. If you just wake up and start rolling, related to this reset concept is the fact that your energy. [00:11:00] You could even say your emotions where emotion is energy in motion, right? Emotion. Those also come back to more or less neutral. Now everybody has kind of an emotional home. Some people are biased a bit negative. You might know some of those people, some people are biased, more positive, right? They’re they’re always a bit happier, but generally speaking, you, you come back to a more neutral place when you wake up in the morning. [00:11:24] And what’s true about energy and emotion. Is that it’s difficult for the mind and the, the nervous system to have these jolts or big shifts in an energetic state or emotional state. So if you’re really, really negative, let’s just pick an emotion, like anger, frustration. You’re really pissed off. You know, if you’re in that place, it’s difficult moment to moment to just jump from really, really. [00:11:58] To really happy and full of joy and gratitude and loving life to go from a moment to the next moment and make that switch is really tough. And so for me, the opposite is also true. You know, if I’m in a great place, I’m in a place of positive energy, positive emotion, gratitude, happiness, joy, I’m in that a positive place. [00:12:18] It takes a lot more for somebody to bump me down, to feeling sad, depressed, angry, frustra. It can happen, but it’s pretty tough for the body and the mind to make those kind of big jolts. So I look at the morning routine as my opportunity to prime my energy, my emotions, my trajectory of the day into that positive place, where I get my best results. [00:12:42] I do my best thinking and go there so that all those unpredictable things that are gonna happen every. Which let’s face it. We can come into the day with the best plans possible and stuff always goes some other way than our perfect plan. So if I’m primed in a positive way, it sets me up for success that if something wants to derail me, It’s gonna have to work a lot harder to get me off of that positive energy. [00:13:10] You know, it may bump me back to neutral, but I have a chance to still recover that and, and stay in a positive place. Versus if I start the day negative or even start it neutral. And the first thing I encounter at work is negative. Boom, you know, suddenly I’m in a negative place all day long. So, so those are the principles for me out. [00:13:29] Why the morning routine is so important. I think it’s truly like that. First 30 to 90 minutes of the day is unique in setting you up for success in creating focus and in creating a positive energy and emotion to carry you through your best day. That’s the starting point. Why I believe in it now here’s the problem. [00:13:53] There’s a hundred thousand answers to the question of what’s a good morning routine. And I’ll just say at the end of the day, Nick, if you wanna answer this question for yourself, the best answer is the one that you will consistently do the best morning routine for. Is the one you’ll do the consistency and the execution is what matters in my mind. [00:14:17] More than the specific things that you fill that with in terms of the activities. Because if you do it for just a, a day or a couple days a week, you’re not gonna get the same results as consistent every single day, driving yourself forward. So I would start there. So did I hear the question, Daniel, Nick wants to know my morning routine too? [00:14:38] Or like what, what else? Like maybe more specifically what to do. Yeah.  [00:14:42] Daniel Powell: And I think I’ll, I’ll go ahead and call out something here in one of your recent interviews, your guest. I don’t remember the fellow’s name right now. I’m sure you can help me out. he was talking about the emotional scale kind of being like a ladder,  [00:14:57] Looking at that on my screen right here, and it kind of starts off at apathy and then hope optimism, enthusiasm, kindness, gratitude piece. so I hear you saying when you get outta bed, you want that first step to be up that ladder of emotions instead of doubt.  [00:15:17] Zach White: Yes. Yeah. So Robert Peterson, I talked about this and yeah, absolutely. [00:15:21] The emotional scale. So if you didn’t catch that that’s episode 58, and this is a perfect point, connecting the dots. Thanks, Dana. The emotional scale is a really good tool. Go Google that, you know, if you’re listening and you wanna know what that is, just go to Google type, emotional scale, hit images, you’ll see a bunch of versions of it, but that’s exactly what I’m saying. [00:15:39] You know, if I wake up at neutral on the. I wanna use those first minutes of my day to pump me up as close to the top as I can. Cuz once my energy is up. Not only do I get better results, I’m more productive. I have more clarity. I impact those around me in a more positive way. But if something in life or a relationship, another person tries to knock me down. [00:16:05] Even if not trying to, it just happens. Right. Life happens, man. It’s a lot harder to take me all the way to the bottom. That scale in one. right. It may bump me down some, but again, it makes you more resilient to tough things throughout the day.  [00:16:19] And for anybody, listen, If you’re concerned about the time investment in the morning, being difficult to come by and how do I make that happen? you know, here’s the ROI equation. I am more productive every hour of my day because of the time I invest in the morning. [00:16:35] Zach White: And I guarantee you, I am getting better results in literal measurable outcomes every single day, by putting in time upfront. it’s just the old, a Lincoln sharpen the ax before you start chopping. This is me sharpening the ax every single morning. So here’s what I would encourage everybody to consider. [00:16:55] If you’re designing a morning routine, I believe the best morning routines address. Let’s hear your morning routine. All right. Alright, I’ll give you tell us yours. I’ll tell you mine, and then I’ll tell you about why it has what it has in. It’s not perfect. Yeah. Daniel calling me out. Good shopping man. My morning routine. [00:17:13] I wake up the alarms on the other side of the room. So I, I get outta the. I hit that alarm, turn it off. I walk straight into the restroom where my clothes to work out are all set out primed. I get the clothes on. I use the restroom, splash, cold water on my face. Essentially. I use those, you know, first two minutes just to get myself awake and alert and out of the bed and into the flow. [00:17:35] I really do encourage everybody. Like the first thing that you do when you get outta bed, it’s kinda like knocking over that first domino in a domino rally. You gotta get that one, right. And be non-negotiable. So plug for, do not hit the snooze button. I know a lot of people say that I believe it too, because as soon as you hit the snooze, you’ve just made the first domino of your day negotiable. [00:17:59] And that sets the wrong tone for the whole rest of the morning routine. So pick the time, stick to it. So I get outta bed, get dressed. And then for me, right now, I’m in a season of life where fitness is a key priority. So the first thing I do is. Go grab the keys, grab my water bottle and I get in the car and drive straight to the CrossFit gym. [00:18:20] So I do an early 6:30 AM CrossFit workout on my drive. I wanna maximize that time. So I am listening to what I call my living vision. It’s a playback of my own voice. Speaking out my vision for my life for five years from. And I’m speaking it in the present tense. There’s a lot to it. we won’t go into visioning in its entirety today, but I’m listening to that audio and I’m just letting myself experience it fully. [00:18:50] I’m imagining it. I’m just enjoying it. And a lot of times while I’m driving, I’ll even speak it out, along with my own voice. You know, I have a lot of it memorized at this point, cause I’ve heard it so many times and just do that to bring more energy to it. I get to the gym. Bust it hard for an hour with my peers. [00:19:08] I love the competition and comradery of the CrossFit environment. It’s not for everyone, but it’s been great for me recently. And then as soon as that’s done, I get back in the car and same thing. I maximize that transit time. As I’m driving home, I put on a different set of affirmations around health, vitality, energy, and attitude. [00:19:28] And it’s just me speaking. All of the things that I wanna prime my mindset with for the day and same thing, I just bring more energy to that. Turn the volume up. Sometimes I’ll even shout ’em out. just, whatever it takes for me to connect deeply to those statements. So I’ll give you an example of one. [00:19:45] There’s an affirmation in my drive home that says I trust the process of life. I am safe. Really simple statement, but how often do I allow external circumstances to create fear and doubt and uncertainty and like what’s happening and how’s this gonna play out? Well, guess what? A lot of days when those things hit my radar, the first thing that I think is I trust life. [00:20:12] I trust the process. I don’t know how this is gonna play out, but I trust the process of life and I am safe that affirmation, you know, serves me in a big way. So I do that on the drive. Come into the apartment. First thing I do then is focus on refilling the nutrients and the things I need. So protein shake, I use athletic greens. [00:20:32] I’m a green juice guy. Gotta do it, you know, get my greens. And usually by then my wife, you know, she’s up, go in, say, hi, hug, kiss, just check in. You know, how are you feeling? How’d you sleep just a moment to connect with her. And then I move on to preparing. Time of meditation reading and sipping coffee, just me on the couch for a bit. [00:20:56] Zach White: So this is where I take care of my mind and my spirit sit there against could be some journaling, some reading, some mindset work. And that time for me, Daniel is I’ll call it flex time. The theme is my mindset and my spiritual life, but these specific actions that I’ll. Do vary from week to week, really? [00:21:16] Depending on what I’m focused on for my one thing that week or wherever, I feel that I need to focus the most. Get up, take a shower. I always finish with the cold shower. So if you aren’t a believer in cold showers, I’d encourage you to experiment with it. I think it’s really powerful. It’s both for the mind and the body. [00:21:35] There’s physical benefits, but also mental benefits, you doing hard things, choosing to do something uncomfortable every single morning. for me, it’s like I’ve already worked out really hard and chosen to get in really cold water. What else am I gonna do today? That’s that much harder than doing those two things. [00:21:53] It’s like, I’ve already set the bar for doing hard things, really high, take my cold shower, get dressed and eat a little bit, get a few more calories. You know, usually focusing on proteins and complex carbohydrates. we won’t go into too much detail on the nutrition side, but they’ll get the foods that are gonna fuel me and. [00:22:12] Head out to work and start the day with my team, our daily huddle. And by that time, you know, when I show up in the office, the very first thing that happens is making sure I have a clear plan for the entire day. So going through my daily rhythm, making sure every hour of my calendar is accounted for, with intention for the entire day. [00:22:34] Then that daily huddle with my. We get off to the races and just like we’re at right now. All I do then is show up and execute. My energy is high. My emotion is high, very positive. And I don’t have to think about what I’m gonna do for the day. Cause it’s already laid out. It’s already decided. So that’s the short answer could go into a lot more detail. [00:22:54] It wasn’t even short. Dana felt like that’s your short answer? What are you talking about? No, I,  [00:22:59] Daniel Powell: I have reply to that. your, affirmations, you’re, uh, self spoken affirmations. What was your word for those?  [00:23:08] I like intentions. [00:23:10] Zach White: I like affirmations sometimes mantras, but I, this is for me, it’s around health vitality. Um, energy and attitude. Those are the, the buckets. So if some of the affirmations in there are focused around body and health, you know, et cetera, but that’s the category that I focus on there where  [00:23:29] Daniel Powell: I was going with that though, uh, in asking you what you call, those is the. [00:23:34] I feel like a lot of your, your engineering audience members are gonna identify with me when I hear that stuff, man. I’m just like how that’s BS. That’s just, you know, some system somebody’s trying to tell me, you know, I believe in the power that some subconscious mind, but too often, I feel like  [00:23:52] People have tried to sell me that system rather than saying, this is what I do, and this creates a cognitive shift. So I was just very intrigued at that. I don’t think we have time to really dig into that right now, but I was just like, oh wait, what Zach practices, what he preaches. This is interesting. [00:24:11] I want to hear more about that and what that does for him. So ,  [00:24:15] Zach White: I, I get it, you know, there’s a lot of people selling a bill of goods around affirmations that don’t deliver, but at the end of the day, I want to be intentional and choiceful, right. being the one, deciding in the driver’s seat of what thoughts go into my mind that I want to. [00:24:36] Over and over and over that will ultimately drive my life. And that’s all it is, you know, affirmations. What are we talking about? Well, just like I said, when something bad happens in life, what’s your first response. What’s your first thought? Is it? Oh my goodness. This is terrible. This is horrible. like, my life sucks. [00:24:55] Nothing’s ever working out for me. life is conspiring against me. God hates me. Like. Is that what you’re thinking? Well, guess what, that’s what you believe those thoughts subconsciously are served up on a silver platter because you’ve trained yourself that when these things happen, this is how I think I’ve trained myself that when life throws me a nasty curve ball, the first thing that I think is everything is always working out for me. [00:25:20] I trust the process of life and I am. guess who responds better in those two situations? it’s really not complicated to imagine the outcome. It’s just, people don’t wanna believe a in the power of it. Because they’re not willing to do the hard work to actually experience the result. [00:25:42] You don’t get the result in one rep Daniel. I mean, that’s the problem. It’s no different than the CrossFit. I mean, guess what? I went to the CrossFit gym the first time I didn’t come home that night, my wife was like, whoa, look at your biceps. They’re enormous. I was in a lot of pain and I had no results to show for it. [00:25:57] It’s the exact same with affirmations and mindset work. You, when you do it, you’re in a lot of pain. Why. It takes time. It’s boring. It doesn’t really seem like it’s working it. It’s just pain and you have no results to show for it. But if you’ll do it every day for 30 days and then 90 days, and then a year. [00:26:17] suddenly your wife looks at you and is like, oh, my you’re looking pretty good. I like what I see there, bud. Like, let’s keep going. And you’re feeling more energy and you look at you’re like, you hardly recognize yourself. It’s the same thing in your thoughts. Suddenly somebody’s gonna say that thing that used to trigger you used to derail your whole day and your first response is gonna be whatever. [00:26:38] They probably woke up on the wrong side of the bed and everything is gonna work out. and you’re gonna catch yourself in that moment and be like, holy smokes. How did that happen? it’s those daily affirmations.  [00:26:49] Daniel Powell: I like this. I, I definitely, uh, lean towards the more. Yeah. I attempt to be more rationally minded. [00:26:57] Right. So yeah. I like yoga for the stretching and stuff. Right. But when they get to that point, they’re like, what’s your affirmation? I’m like P forget it. I’m stretching. I think loose muscles, you know? .  [00:27:08] Zach White: Yeah. Well, I mean, here’s the simple question. What I’m hearing you  [00:27:11] Daniel Powell: saying that it really lands with me is that you are priming your subconscious. [00:27:19] To deal with challenges with success and action when they arise. I’m like, I can get on board with that, like  [00:27:28] Zach White: that’s right. let’s, let’s use horsepower as an example, everybody understands horsepower. Well, if you’ve got a hundred horse that make up your mind, the neuroscience shows us that 95 of those horses are your subconscious mind. [00:27:41] Five of those horses are your conscious mind. So if 95 horses. Believe that life is conspiring against me. And five of those horses are consciously rationally. Logically, trying to tell you it’s all gonna work out fine. Who’s winning in that tug of war. it’s a no brainer folks. Like your subconscious will win every single time. [00:28:07] It out powers your conscious mind. Everybody’s gonna hear that say no, not true. Like I can rationalize and work my way and analytical, thinking wins every time I get it. I’m an engineer too. Let’s talk about it. but I just wanna encourage folks. The subconscious is the majority of the nervous system. [00:28:27] Let’s use it to our advantage. Believe it there.  [00:28:32] Daniel Powell: I got one analogy I want to add to that. It sounds like what we’re trying to do. Gasoline lawnmowers, right? Growing up. I think everybody’s gone electric these days, but you got that little like rubber bulb, you know that you’re you gotta put a little bit of gas in the tank to fire it up. [00:28:50] Right? You can tell yourself that you’re Heman and you’re gonna rip that cord as hard as you can. You gotta have a little gas that tank to get going. Right.  [00:28:59] Zach White: I love that. Absolutely. Priming is a big deal. So,you know, the only thing I didn’t say, I’ve told you my routine, but here’s the thing is you’re designing yours. [00:29:08] So for the engineering leader, who’s hearing this lot of inputs, hopefully you’re convinced that it’s important, but here’s what I would consider. You’re a whole person to me that means body, mind, and spirit. So just think about your morning routine. Do you have something in. That addresses, priming the pump, priming the gas tank or the engine for, um, those three areas. [00:29:31] So take care of your body, the right input. Nutrition, get some water, get some greens, get, get some Bulletproof coffee, whatever your jam is, think about the body. Some stretching. You don’t have to do CrossFit in the morning. Okay. That’s just, what’s what I do. But maybe there’s some stretching you can do. [00:29:46] Just wake up the body. Think about the mind. These affirmations, maybe some reading, putting, you know, pick a favorite personal development book or something you wanna learn about could be some studying for a key technology that you’re learning about at work. take care of the mind, get the mind revved up, and then the spirit, right? [00:30:01] This part of you that has faith, you know, it doesn’t have to be religious, but just think about who you are as a person, maybe that’s meditation. Prayer could be just focusing on who you wanna be, in your future visioning, but just that idea of looking at your whole. If you can touch on all three, then you’re gonna, I believe, experience the best benefits versus a morning routine. [00:30:22] That’s solely built around physical things, or a lot of people, roll outta bed and do their meditations and those things. But they’re only focused on the mind or the spirit and they don’t take care of their body. To me. When you look at all three that’s when you get the best results. [00:30:39] Daniel Powell: All right. Our next question is from Maria and Maria is a student at the university of Michigan who is studying mechanical  [00:30:49] Zach White: engineering. Go blue. Love that. .  [00:30:53] Daniel Powell: And her question is what advice or tips do you have for those of us still in college? And additionally she asks, is there anything that you Zach would do differently based on what you know now? [00:31:10] I like that, I like  [00:31:11] Zach White: that. I feel like this is an appropriate time for a cliche joke about I did everything perfectly in college and I wouldn’t change a thing or so, great. We do get a lot of people in college, undergrad, grad school who reach out and, we get to talk to them. And what a powerful time in terms of setting the stage for your life so much fun. [00:31:32] I have so many amazing memories from Purdue and U of M for those who don’t know, I said go blue. Cause I got my masters at the university of Michigan, but if I’m being totally honest, Daniel, I’ll give you a couple that pop right in first one for me is that I grew up in a home. That valued academics tremendously, which was awesome. [00:31:54] That’s a great thing, but where I went very wrong was that I trained myself or I was trained by my mom and people who loved me and wanted me to do well to focus on getting the, a get the grade and school for me was built around optimizing for the. and I got really good at that. I mean, I was valedictorian at my high school. [00:32:22] I, I was an, a guy, you know, awesome GPA in college, et cetera, but I got into that mindset of what do I need to do here to get all the points, to get the grade. And while it served me well, in some ways, it also left a lot on the table and really. Understanding the principles and how to apply the material. [00:32:46] And honestly, if I’m just looking back, it wasn’t as passion led, it was more just figure out how to not mess up here. And that’s, that’s something that I do wish I’d looked at differently that somebody had come alongside and said, look, yeah, getting an a matters, great grades matter. It’s gonna help you. [00:33:06] But more importantly, Are you wrapping your head around this material and falling in love with engineering more and more semester after semester. And, there were plenty of times where I could have cared less about the material. I was just focused on getting that project done and getting that a, and that’s a mistake, I wish I’d done. [00:33:30] Differently cuz it would’ve served me so much better in my career. And even to this day, the amount of engineering that I’ve forgotten is higher because I didn’t fall in love with the principles and the application during college days. Now it doesn’t mean I couldn’t go back and relearn it. But, the engineers that I work with who really just amaze me with their brilliance, 10, 20, and 30 years after they’ve finished undergrad and still have that incredible grasp. [00:33:58] It’s not just that they’re using it on the job. That’s always an easy one. Yeah. Okay. If you use it, you don’t lose it, but also they really fell in love with, with the material. So that’s number. closely related to that is go to the freaking office hours. like, go hang with your professor. wish I’d done more of that because it’s helps you to learn and discover really what’s what this is all about and not just how to solve the homework problem or get an a on the test And, you know, just frankly, the courage and confidence to go talk to a superior. Can’t tell you how many young engineers. Really are uncomfortable, like deeply uncomfortable sit there at the phone for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. [00:34:39] Thinking about what they’re gonna say when they pick up the phone to dial, the manager or a vendor, an external vendor who they’ve never talked to, and it really causes them to. clam up and they don’t know how to handle that situation. I think office hours is a good time to flex that ability to just kind of walk in the room with somebody who you see as a superior and realize that I can just have a chat. [00:35:00] I can be me and we’re two people. It doesn’t make them unapproachable. I think that’s another benefit of spending more time with your profess.  [00:35:12] Daniel Powell: That’s excellent. I’ve never thought about it like that.  [00:35:15] Zach White: Honestly, I, I’m not sure that I connected those dots until this moment either, but I think it’s really good. [00:35:20] Here’s another one then, I’ll get off the academics for a second. You know, if you can finish your engineering degree, you’re already ahead of the majority of the population, you know, great job. But here’s something I would say fewer groups bigger. So I did a lot of hiring of college grads. When I was at Whirlpool. [00:35:41] My clients do a lot of hiring of college grads in the companies that they work for as directors and managers and their companies. And one of the things that I see a lot is a resume packed with activities. You’re a member or a participant in 20 different student organizations and things on campus.  [00:36:03] The sort of resume packing lifestyle is interesting, but here’s the deal. If all you’re doing is showing up to a bunch of parties and member meetings and different things for all these groups you paid your dues and you got your, permission to put it on your resume, but you didn’t actually move the needle on anything of impact in those organizations. [00:36:27] to me, that’s not impressive. It doesn’t make me wanna hire you. If you had done just a couple of things. but you went all in and you actually changed the game. You accomplished something meaningful. You have a result that you can speak about and you put a lot of energy and heart and soul into it. That person is someone I’m much more interested in hiring than the person who has 20 things on their resume. [00:36:51] Zach White: And, you know, they were. 15 organizations , but they didn’t actually do anything meaningful with any of them. So fewer activities, deeper impact, is something I would encourage you to do. And, and if you’re a student with a lot of interests, that’s fine. just do one at a time. maybe this semester you focus on, uh, the SAE car or you get into the solar car team for a year and really drive that to a big result. [00:37:18] And then the next year you can do something else. Encourage folks to do less and obsess a bit more about making that impactful. but it’s a place I see folks trying to pack the resume, so just be careful. [00:37:34] and then maybe the last thing I’d say is start young, starting college of looking at yourself as a whole person. So at OACO we do, really powerful coaching for engineering leaders around this concept of how do you create career success without suffering burnout and becoming one dimensional, working too much, or really only achieving success in your career, but your marriage falls apart or your health falls apart, or these other things I would just encourage you to start now. [00:38:05] Maria you’re in college. Now’s the time to look at your whole person. So don’t only invest time and energy into academics and your analytical logical systems part of your mind. What can you do? That’s really creative, practicing using the other side of your brain for a while, do some creative writing, do some painting, do some, creative. [00:38:27] Zach White: Dance, you know, that’s something I did, everybody who follows me knows I did ballroom Latin and swing dancing competitively while I was at Purdue. Something that taps into the other parts of who you are, a hobby that you’re passionate about, those kinds of things. And then also, you know, you’re gonna make a living with your mind as an engineering leader. [00:38:47] So what about your. You know, stay active, something that keeps you fit something that, connects with who you are physically. If that’s playing a varsity sport, that’s amazing. If it’s, intermurals or simply just having a passion for fitness, that you can then talk about how you had that discipline in your body. [00:39:05] In addition to discipline in your mind. Again, start now building those habits, not only for your resume and to talk about in an interview, but frankly, so that 10 years from now, you don’t suffer the kind of burnout that I see. So often with engineering leaders who fall into that trap of just going after engineering success. [00:39:25] Daniel Powell: So we got four great points there, Zach, the first one. Focus less on the grade and more on the opportunities in discovering your passions. Did  [00:39:35] Zach White: I get that right? Yeah. Maybe call it, you know, master the principles and the application I’d just say all of the above. Yeah. Um,  [00:39:44] Daniel Powell: number two, go to office hours, interact with your academic superiors. [00:39:50] Number three, fewer groups higher. And number four, look at yourself as a whole person. [00:39:59] Zach White: You know, what’s funny is you repeat those back. Daniel is we could probably just copy paste that into. Anybody’s situation right where they’re at, not just college, it’s not that different. If you were a, a engineering manager and said, Hey, what should I do? It’s like, Hey, focus on the principles. [00:40:16] Not just the grades. Yeah. I mean, that’s interesting. I mean, very true. Very true. I about that,  [00:40:20] Daniel Powell: huh? Well, Hey Zach. So at the happy engineer, We’re all about questions and good questions lead to good answers. You say that a lot more eloquently, but so for each of our questioners today, what question would you encourage them to ask? [00:40:44] So what question would you encourage Nick to ask who is wanting to explore the realm of morning routine? [00:40:56] Zach White: Nick, I would encourage you to ask yourself, what am I willing to commit to? Because at the end of the day, your success in building a morning routine and getting results from it will depend on consistency, grit, sticktuitiveness discipline, whatever, whatever word resonates for you. The. So ask yourself, what are you willing to commit to and start there? [00:41:27] And  [00:41:28] Daniel Powell: then Maria, what advice would you have for those of us in college? What, uh, what question would you encourage your listeners in college to ask right now, [00:41:41] Zach White: this one’s harder for me, cuz there’s a lot of. There’s a lot of questions we could ask, but Maria, here’s where I would point you. I would ask the question. What kind of engineer do I want to be? Take yourself out of the present moment in college and go ahead and place your mind, you know, visualize and think for a moment about when you’re doing this for your life. [00:42:13] You’re in that first job that maybe second, third, fourth job down the road. What kind of engineer do I wanna be? And you may, may not have all the answers to that, but just get that picture in your mind because that’s gonna be that north star. That’s gonna make it easier to implement the things that we talked about, these four points. [00:42:36] But if you don’t have something beyond this moment and beyond, what’s right in front of. To pull you towards being you’re at best, then it’s pretty easy to fall into some, typical habits or behaviors of a, the college culture around you to be the same as your peers, or let that environment influence you or to just keep doing it the way you’ve always done it. [00:42:59] So what kind of engineer do you wanna be? And then let’s work that back to how then will you act today to help you get there? Well, those were two great questions today. Zach, Let me ask you a question, Zach. Yeah. What’s the last thing that impacted you? Is there something you read lately that resonated  [00:43:18] with. Wow, I mean, I’m always studying and always looking for new ways to take my life and the lives of my clients to the next level. [00:43:27] And so in, in answering that at this moment, you know, we’re recording in July of 2022. If anybody’s catching this in the future. And whenever this episode releases. The thing I’m focused on the most right now is understanding the relationship between the conscious mind and the unconscious, the subconscious, and how the analytical mind, which is a part or a behavior of the conscious, how it is a strength and how it’s a weakness in creating change and transf. [00:44:04] Of the subconscious. So that’s a mouthful, but here’s why this interests me so much engineering leaders and myself included. I am right in this category. We have a very thick, a very strong, analytical mind that drives us to great success in many areas. But the data and the research out there is showing pretty clearly that a deep, thick, strong, analytical approach to life also makes it more difficult for you to become suggestible in the subconscious. [00:44:44] So to me, that’s important because like we talked about earlier those 95 horses and five horses, this affirmations, and how do we change the subconscious. If we have a handicap because of our analytical thinking to creating that change, what do we need to do as engineering leaders to help optimize the whole system? [00:45:04] And are there different strategies, different tactics and different ways to apply energy, to help us maximize both sides, cuz it’s not at all to say that analytical thinking is a weakness. It is a strength, but like any strength over indexed or used in the wrong ways can become a weakness. So. That’s what I’m studying hard and bringing the best of best that we can find to our clients to help them say, alright, here’s how we leverage the strength, but this is what we need to uniquely focus on to mitigate how that can also block us from change and transformation in our life. [00:45:38] [00:45:38] Daniel Powell: think that really brings us full circle back to our first question about more routines, you know, a hundred. How do you, use your conscious mind to influence your subconscious.  [00:45:47] Zach White: There it is. Boom, big, big period. Awesome questions, Daniel. Thanks for being here and working through those with me. [00:45:53] I love, uh, you, you always take me to great places and, uh, kudos and thank you to the folks who submitted questions.  [00:45:59] Daniel Powell: All right, Zach, that’s another one in the bag question and answer number three  [00:46:04] Zach White: until next time. Keep crushing comfort, Daniel. I know you’re