The Happy Engineer Podcast

096: From Hate to Happiness with Dr. Benjamin Ritter | 3 Keys to Engineering Career Fulfillment

In this episode, we go through the 3 keys to transformation. We show you how to go from hating your life, to happiness every day!

Discover how to be the leader of your own career and create the results you want.

Experience this powerful shift with our guest and my good friend, Dr. Benjamin Ritter. He is founder of Live for Yourself Consulting, bringing a revolutionary mindset in creating the life of your dreams.

Ben is a leadership and career coach, Talent Development Executive, values geek, international speaker, online instructor of the course Be the Leader of Your Own Career and Create a Career You Love.

He also hosts two podcasts, “The Executive” and “The Live for Yourself Revolution.”

So press play and let’s chat… it’s time to live life on your own terms and love it every step of the way!

Join us in a live webinar for deeper training, career Q&A, and FREE stuff!  HAPPY HOUR! Live with Zach

Get access to bonus content and live coaching as growth-minded leaders build careers together. Join our Facebook Group


The Happy Engineer Podcast




Previous Episode 095: Hello, My Name is Awesome! with Alexandra Watkins | Chief Executive Boss Lady




Clarity is the starting point.

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or bored with your career and life, it’s time to seek clarity.

It’s essential to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, as it gives you direction and purpose. Without clarity, you’ll feel lost, unsure of what steps to take next.

I recall my time as an engineering leader at Whirlpool Corporation, where I had a general sense of wanting something more.

I began coaching and training as a coach through the icf, but I lacked clarity.

I wanted to do something with coaching and had an entrepreneurial itch, but it was all very general and generic. I felt called to something else, yet couldn’t put my head around what it was.

It’s a frustrating place to be, feeling like you don’t belong in your current situation but unsure of where to go next. That’s precisely how I felt. For a long time, I was stuck in that place, lacking the clarity to move forward.

However, everything changed when I went on a three-day water-only fast.

During that time, I spent time journaling, praying, and seeking clarity.

I asked myself powerful questions and gave myself room without distraction, without any other inputs. It was during that three-day fast when everything became clear.

Coaching, entrepreneurship, and engineering crystallized into a singular vision with extreme clarity.

I knew that I wanted to leave my career and launch my own company as a coach exclusively for engineering leadership.

My newfound clarity gave me the confidence to speak with my wife about it, and she supported me immediately.

Because I had the clarity, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and she could see my confidence in speaking with her.

It gave me the control to make the hard decisions to take the steps necessary to make that transition.

If you’re not feeling like you’re in the place you want to be, it starts with clarity.

And we’re here to help. Seeking clarity is the first step to go on the journey towards your dream career and life.

Seek clarity to gain confidence and control. It’s powerful to have someone to talk to about your visions, and that’s why coaching is an important way to accelerate your progress towards your goals.

If you’re interested in working with us, we’d be honored to support you.

We’re great at providing clarity to people who need it.

All you need to do is text Lifestyle to 55444 or book your clarity call through the link.

So, get clarity, crush comfort, and let’s do this!



Dr. Benjamin Ritter, founder of Live for Yourself Consulting, is a leadership and career coach, Talent Development Executive, values geek, international speaker, online course instructor, and podcaster (The Executive, and The Live for Yourself Revolution), who’s passionate about guiding leaders to be the leader of their own career and create a career they love.

With over 11 years of experience working with clients from companies such as Amazon, Coursera, Doordash, Google, Fiserv, Northwestern, Pinterest, and Yelp, Ben understands how to navigate any career path you decide you want to travel.

From empowering professionals to get unstuck, to guiding senior leadership on how to stand out from the competition, develop executive presence, and feel confident in being a leader, Ben is an expert in his field and will guide you toward truly living for yourself at work and in life.

Ben received his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership with a focus on value congruence and job satisfaction and earned an MBA in entrepreneurial management, and an MPH in health policy administration.





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

[00:00:00] Zach White: Happy engineer, welcome back and I’ve got the amazing Dr. Benjamin Ritter in the house. Ben, thanks for making time to come back and do this. I’m really excited about our chat. 

[00:00:11] Ben Ritter: Me too. I’m actually house hiding right now, so being in a house is, makes a lot of sense to me. I, I wanna open all the closet doors though, and, you know, check the walls and the, the foundation and stuff, but we’re here. We’re gonna have some fun.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:21] Zach White: I love that . I love that metaphor. All right, so we’re gonna explore the whole house today and make sure it’s built on a sound foundation. And Ben, I had the privilege of being on your show not too long. and learned a lot about you and even before we hit record today. So like where could we begin?

[00:00:38] There’s so much to cover and I think it’s important because I resonate with so much of who you are and I loved being on your show, but on the surface, the words around your business and the way you talk about things wouldn’t have resonated for me if I had only seen them. And so specifically talking about the live for.

[00:01:04] Revolution live for yourself consulting, and I am definitely one of the people who grew up in a home where the idea of living for yourself was not allowed. That that is selfish, unacceptable, bad values, bad morals kind of language. So would you first explain a little bit? What that means and why it’s not just a selfish, horrible statement to make this idea of live for yourself.

[00:01:36] Ben Ritter: Of course. And as you were saying that, I was picturing two very different types of people. Let’s say someone that wakes up but they’re getting up maybe at a time they don’t really want to get up because they’ve committed to something maybe they don’t really want to commit to. a, an early meeting for work or.

[00:01:53] They have to go do some sort of errand that doesn’t really fit who they are, but they’re doing a favor for someone that doesn’t, they don’t, they think it’s a favor. They really don’t wanna do it. So then by the time they start work, they’re in a pretty pissed mood, not very happy, and they don’t really have any boundaries around work.

[00:02:11] So they kind of stay silent in meetings to let themselves be talked over. They don’t share their ideas and the work that they’re actually doing. isn’t work that really aligns with what they care about. At the same time, their coworkers keep asking them for favors and they don’t wanna let them down.

[00:02:25] Cause what would they think of them? So they, you know, do more of work that they don’t really enjoy. They’re doing work for people that they’re starting to resent. And then maybe some coworkers ask ’em to go to a happy hour and the person doesn’t really wanna say no because they want to seem like they’re part of the team.

[00:02:39] So, and they don’t really drink though. And they, they’ve actually been trying to drink less, but they go to the happy hour and they drink way too many drinks. Cause people keep buying them for them. So now they. Intoxicated. They’re drained, they’re frustrated. They’re angry. Yeah. Yeah. And they’re going home and their partner and their family had dinner plans with them.

[00:02:59] And so that person’s walking in the door drunk. late for dinner and still has work to do because of all the commitments they’ve made at their job. And the person’s children are saying like, can you play with me? Can you hang out with me? Mm-hmm. . And so there’s, you know, this person’s trying to do two things at once and, you know, lo and behold, the person finally hits head to pillow and can’t sleep cuz they’re so anxious about all the other things that they need to do in their, in their work and in their life and what they’re not happy.

[00:03:27] and let’s imagine instead someone that wakes up when they want to wake up because they care about waking up at that time and they’ve really structured the beginning of their day to serve them cuz they know what they value and what they care about. And then they go into work and they’re really motivated because they are working on things that challenge them and are helping them develop.

[00:03:47] And they have really good, transparent conversations with their coworkers around their boundaries and what they want to do and what their strengths are and what they can do. And maybe they’ll help out here and there, but it’s on their terms because they’re focused on priorities that matter for the organization and for themselves and for their career.

[00:04:03] And when it comes time to go home and be there for dinner, when they get asked for happy hour, the person says, you know, why not? Instead we go to lunch tomorrow, I’m gonna join my family. We have dinner tonight. And so I know one was a little bit over One was probably a little quick.

[00:04:17] Yeah. But there’s, living for yourself is understanding what your values are and leaning into those values and into the world. And it’s your work in that way. You’re doing work that matters. You’re doing work that you care about. So you’re more likely to show up in a way that is engaging, energized.

[00:04:31] Yes. And product. instead of someone that thinks they have to do something for everybody else, which sadly is how a lot of people are working and living their life when it comes to the professional world. 

[00:04:41] Zach White: this is a great way to paint the picture. And I kind of wanna name these, these two people generically.

[00:04:46] So no, no representations, no clients being represented here. But the first thing that popped in my mind for that, beginning name was like David down downer, David. It’s just. Everything about that experience drained energy from me hearing you say it, and a lot of those pieces, I intimately know that person , not all of what you painted, but I remember in my career days, Ben, experiencing those moments, especially taking on every ask of me out of the belief that it was the right thing to do or helpful or would help me.

[00:05:27] In my career and I know Downer David Energy drained David is, is feeling the same way. Like I’m doing all of this for everyone else and it’s still not getting me to the life that I want. Would you share, from your experience, what do you think leads people down that road? How do we become downer David in our career and in our.

[00:05:50] Ben Ritter: It comes from a lack of clarity and a lack, lack of confidence was feed into a lack of control over our life, and, and I’m saying it very definitively because of, I’ve seen a lot of clients that this affected. I’m sure you have as well. 

[00:06:02] Zach White: Wait, say that, say again though. That was perfect. Clarity, confidence, and what was the last piece?

[00:06:09] Ben Ritter: Without clarity of knowing what you stand for and who you are and what you’re working towards, you’re not gonna believe in yourself because you’re not actually gonna see progress towards the thing that things that you actually do care about. Yes. And without confidence, then you lose control over your day to day because you’re just kind of floundering, trying to go in any sort of direction thinking that things work when they really don’t like saying yes asks, because you think they’re gonna help your career because you’re worried that people are gonna think about you because you don’t know what you think about.

[00:06:34] and all of a sudden now you are living a life that does not serve you, does not energize you, and actually is not helping you. As you said. You do all these things for other people because you think they’re going to help. And I’d also say, and that will add to that additionally. Yes. And you do all these things for other people because you’re worried about what they’re going to think about you.

[00:06:53] Yeah. And most of the time in the work environment that I see with my clients is, well, I can’t do that. What are they gonna think about me? Well, I can’t do that. what does that. for me because they’re actually, it’s hilarious to think about. They are thinking about themselves, but thinking about themselves in a way that isn’t serving them, such as, I’m at risk if I don’t do this.

[00:07:15] I’m at risk. If I don’t respond on my boss immediately, I’m at risk if I say no. And that fear around our professional life and our ability to be successful without the job that we have, or to be successful in a way that serves us is holding a lot of people. 

[00:07:32] Zach White: Ben, is it fair to change the paradigm around the word selfish for a moment?

[00:07:40] And to your point, all those actions of Downer David, were still driven from a selfish perspective of caring about how I’m perceived and how I rank, or the hierarchy or the, what other people think of. . So it’s still a selfish motivation, but from a lack of clarity around my values and what I actually want and if I live the other way, which we didn’t name person two, call ’em my, my terms, Tom, you know, living on my terms, taking action and, and values aligned.

[00:08:16] You know, maybe values Victor would’ve been better. I dunno. But we’ll go with Tom. So, so Tom, living on his terms, it may. Selfish as well, but in actuality, because it’s from a place of clarity, the ultimate outcome is far more selfless because it’s benefiting the world around him more. It’s like, would you agree with that paradigm shift or how would you describe it?

[00:08:40] Ben Ritter: I think the underlying motivations are similar, but the beliefs. Are different. So yes, they, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, that no matter what you do, you’re doing it from a selfish, like you’re doing it selfishly. And I think that makes people cringe a little bit, but. . It’s just how we live our life.

[00:09:03] If we do something, it’s because it gives us some sort of emotion or helps us feel a certain way. and even if we’re doing it cuz like, oh I need to do this cuz it’s painful, it, I’m doing this for other people. You’re actually doing it for you yourself cuz you think that’s something that you need to be doing.

[00:09:18] Mm-hmm . So either we do something for our, for ourselves in a way that doesn’t serve us, or we do something for ourselves in a way that does serve us. And it is. Such an interesting little conundrum when it comes to, yeah, our ability to be comfortable with the fact that like even just being able to walk in the room and say, I’m doing this for me, that is a really difficult thing for a lot of people to say, especially when it comes to their career.

[00:09:44] Yeah. 

[00:09:45] Zach White: Ben, I could say confidently I’ve been told. that you should not say that, that that’s not okay to say like . It’s, you know, I have had those experiences in my life from people that I, you know, love and respect and they meant well. But the idea of if that’s the driving force, that’s the wrong driving force.

[00:10:02] And so this is really interesting and I’m actually thinking back, I know one of your LinkedIn articles that I think is really powerful opens with that line. Everything you do is for yourself and it cause. A pause for me, for anyone, I think to ask like, is that true? Is that true that everything I do is for myself?

[00:10:23] And if, if that’s the case, like what is the definition of selfishness then if we’re saying, well, both downer, David and my terms Tom, are both being selfish, but one is getting a great outcome and a life that they love and impacting the world in a positive way and actually helping others. and the other one is in many ways helping no one, they’re creating a, a drain on their own energy, their own quality of life, and dragging down the people that they love.

[00:10:53] what does it mean to be selfish? 

[00:10:54] Ben Ritter: Yeah. And I so selfishness, I think is living a life for yourself through taking from others. So you’re, you’re doing something to take from the world around you and from the people around. living for yourself is doing the things that serve you, that also add value to the world.

[00:11:16] Zach White: I love that. Great distinction, the language that we use at Oasis of Courage with my clients and our coaching, that I think comes back to the same point, is that at the end of the day, every day we’re all seeking to experience the fulfillment of our values. and do we know what those are?

[00:11:35] But you know, to, to feel that state, that energy, that place of alignment with our core values, we’re all seeking that subconsciously, uh, with this underpinning of survival in, in our subconscious mind. And if you’re not having it, you’d say it was a bad day. And if you’re really experiencing it at a high level, you’d say it’s a great thing.

[00:11:56] And every decision is drawing back to that. And we have rules for how we get there, et cetera. So If a lack of clarity is the starting point of that cascade, that takes us into a downer, David lifestyle. What do we need clarity on first to reverse that, to go the other direction. 

[00:12:15] Ben Ritter: Clarity, what is the first step to clarity? And honestly, when I work with clients, it’s actually what is the first step that they’re drawn to because there are a couple different components of clarity.

[00:12:26] There’s our values. So exploring, defining and aligning our values, which you’ve already mentioned in terms of fulfillment. If you’re living true to your values, if you know who you are, if you can walk into a room and say, this is who I am, this is what I care about, then you know. How to show up, how you wanna show up.

[00:12:39] It’s gonna be most fulfilling. You know, what types of relationships to be around. You can make decisions a little bit more strategically and technically by leveraging your values to help you make those decisions. And most importantly, you walk into a room and don’t really care what other people care about because you know for certain what you do.

[00:12:57] and through those values. , you then can figure out, well, how do I wanna live these values? So the next step in clarity, or depending on how you want to do it, it actually does not have to be in this order, is setting some priorities and goals. So now based on my life today, the environment that I’m in, how can I live true to my values?

[00:13:16] What is the one thing I can do, or the two things or the three things? And better yet, let’s get a little bit more specific. What is it that I want to achieve in my career in the next. the next six months, the next three months, the next five years. Great. What are the different options I have in front of me to live true to my values, to show up in a way that’s intentional, that also helps me make progress towards those goals.

[00:13:41] And so that’s a little bit more action oriented when it comes to clarity, but that’s how we use our values. So then source our goals, or we create goals and then screen them through our values. Yes, it doesn’t have to be in any specific. , uh, for us to actually feel that we know who we are and, and to be confident in what we’re working towards.

[00:13:58] It’s like the start of confidence. Mm-hmm. , 

[00:14:01] Zach White: I like the idea of these don’t have to go in a particular order, and when I coach, we do structure the work because I work with engineers and they love a good system. They love a good, let’s do A then B, then C. But the actual model that we work through, what we call the lifestyle engineering blueprint.

[00:14:20] They’re not sequential or hierarchical. It’s, it’s a house. They’re columns, they’re pillars, and one of them is purpose and values. The other is priority goals and vision. Right? The so purpose and priority, but they’re not hierarchical. It really does, I agree with you. You know, if you know your values well, it informs what your priorities are.

[00:14:42] If you know your priorities extremely clearly, we can ask, you know, what does that infer about what you value? . The piece I’m curious about for you too is we get a lot of questions from clients at Oaco about aspirational values. What I wish I could be like and how I want to show up in the world versus how I do.

[00:15:05] And this values question. One of the exercises I often do is, you know, not just proactively, but like, let’s look back. , where are your priorities or have they been in the last year? Where does your time go? Where does your money go? Where does your energy go? What are your peak experiences? What are your valley experiences?

[00:15:25] And let’s just kind of mine that as an expression of what you have chosen to value in your life up to this point. And not every time do people like what they see. Sometimes it’s like, oh, you know, you’re telling me you value, love, and connection and family. , but you haven’t spent any time in the last two years pouring out love and connection and energy into your family.

[00:15:50] So do you actually value it or is that just something you know You should, so how would you describe the difference between this longing for an aspirational version of ourselves that doesn’t actually yet exist in the world? How do we reconcile that? You used a great 

[00:16:08] Ben Ritter: example, I gonna pull out one of those words.

[00:16:12] because I can’t tell you how many high-powered executives I work with that say they care about family. Yeah. And they’re not investing time there, but usually be the reason why they’re working with me is because they feel off. They feel stuck, they feel drained, they feel like something’s wrong, and then we identify their values and they go, great.

[00:16:31] They care about family. It totally makes sense why you’re feeling this way. You have not been living a life towards your. So now you have an option. Option A. Keep doing whatever you’re doing. Still feel drained, still. Still feel unfulfilled, still feel, feel stuck. By the way, there’s a bunch of other options.

[00:16:50] I’m just using A and B for simplicity. Option B, honor your value. Figure out a way for you to start adjusting your boundaries and how you’re working and how you’re showing up to honor the value of family. It might be. Setting, you know, one day off a month, full day to go take your family out on a fuel trip of some kind or not working on the weekends to spend time with your family or in the morning, spending 20 minutes making lunches for your kids, whatever it is.

[00:17:20] having a date night with your partner doesn’t have to be a completely life-changing event, right? Because even one moment can be life-changing when it comes when. when it regards your values, because if you do feel that you’re honoring them, however it is, you wanna define that, you’re honoring them, then you will feel more fulfilled.

[00:17:38] So I, I would actually also then start exploring what does it mean to honor this value? So let’s define what family means to you in the work environment and in your personal life. What is an action that would represent you honoring this? What would make this a 10? If you were ranked this one outta 10, 10 being the most aligned, what would your life be?

[00:17:58] How would you rank yourself now? Where is that gap? What would move you one point forwards? So we’re, we’re trying to get more specific, really create some action steps, put more of an understanding around the sacrifices this person is choosing to make for whatever payoff they think they’re going to get, as well as just kind of accepting, right, taking responsibility for the life that they’re choosing.

[00:18:22] Great. So you have a two year plan where you’re gonna totally disregard your value of family to be able to honor you, value a family later on. Great. Let’s go tell your family that. Let’s go remind yourself that you’re like, and let’s structure your life. So despite the fact that you’re gonna be drained and unfulfilled, you get a little bit of that value during your week.

[00:18:41] Yes. And so it’s, it’s just information to play with because I almost would say it’s a. That if you’re misaligned from your values, you’re going to feel drained and discouraged and frustrated. And so with that fact, now let’s figure out how you wanna live your life. 

[00:18:55] Zach White: Ben, for you personally, and I know you do incredible work with executives and leaders and helping them with this, but I often see too, you know, our mess becomes our message.

[00:19:09] and I’m wondering if you could share what’s, behind this in your own story? Have you been there, experienced this disconnect and lack of clarity and come through it in your own life? 

[00:19:20] Ben Ritter: Nah, I’ve always been perfect. I’m great. I was born a coach, right? It’s Oh, you’re 

[00:19:23] Zach White: one of those coaches. Oh, okay. . 

[00:19:27] Ben Ritter: No, I, I operated by the wrong set of police for a very long.

[00:19:32] I defined something as being my purpose. That was not my purpose. It was a, a goal that I was then though sourcing all of my confidence from, and was also headed in the wrong direction. Cause I didn’t spend the time to really evaluate the goal for what it really meant to me, how it aligned to my values and how that then related to where I should be spending my prior.

[00:19:54] I basically identified myself in a way that wasn’t right. True identity, which can be really dangerous cuz when you lose that identity, when you realize it’s not who you are, you’ve built your whole life on a false pretense. And so you have to figure out how to rebuild yourself. So, and this was soccer.

[00:20:09] I wanna be a professional soccer player, and you’d be like, oh, I had an athlete. Big deal. But just to put you in my headspace, at the time all I watched on TV were VHS tapes of recorded soccer. , all the people I hung out with were really nobody, people that went to the gym with me because the people on the team didn’t like me because I think they might have perceived that I wasn’t, well, I wasn’t very sociable.

[00:20:31] I’ll give you that one. Okay. And I didn’t form relationships with people because I didn’t feel that they were important. I trained in the morning, trained in the afternoon, trained at night, was really good in private. But when I was in public and practicing on a. I was good enough, but not the best.

[00:20:48] And I would constantly make mistakes because I invested so much of my self-identity in what I was doing, that my confidence diminished drastically to the point where I was my worst enemy. And whenever I would have to perform, I would talk myself out of performing and I just wouldn’t be able to. Wow. And so imagine loving something, so much thinking it’s the only thing that you need to focus on having zero community.

[00:21:13] At the same time, not being confident in yourself and because you hate yourself for not being able to achieve your goals, that spirals down to develop into eating an an eating disorder, pretty serious one, and other mental health issues. I reached the point in my soccer career where it was gone and I had to figure out what to do next after a hip surgery and a variety of other injuries and.

[00:21:39] Was able to fix my life by really identifying who I really was and identifying who that person was through exploration and discomfort. So I would go, I went online and typed in how to become confident, right? Because I thought that was my main issue. I read books and every book I could fi, I basically took all the energy that I was investing in soccer, invested it into my own personal development to try to figure out who am I now that I don’t have this thing?

[00:22:07] how to fix my, you know, mental holdups and then how to learn, how to be confident in social. And that led me down like a four or five year path of studying and putting myself in uncomfortable situations, just being fearless because I’m like, what do I have to lose? Just literally nothing left that I have to lose.

[00:22:26] And so I was able to develop into someone that I thought was confident, social, believed them. Knew what he was working on because he didn’t know what he was working on. Meaning that I had a sense of clarity of I’m going to explore what life has to offer because I was not doing that before. Now, that was my own personal journey in my own development as a human, but I have a whole nother journey that happened in my professional life because lo and behold, you think you do this once for your personal life and then you remember it for every single asset facet of your life.

[00:22:55] It’s not the case. Yeah. I for some reason didn’t remember that. Oh, yeah. Being proactive. In my personal life was really successful. Maybe I should do that in my career. And so I actually ended up getting to a point in my professional life where I was disengaged, resentful towards my employer, lacked confidence to be able to figure out what I really could do, had no clarity around what I wanted to do.

[00:23:18] And lo and behold, luckily I woke up. But that’s another story. Wow. 

[00:23:23] Zach White: First, I wanna go back to this experience you described of being in pro soccer, loving it, dedicating your whole wanting pro soccer 

[00:23:32] Ben Ritter: whole life. Let me correct that. Sorry. Wanting pro soccer.

[00:23:34] Played a little semi Okay. Little semi in London. 

[00:23:37] Zach White: But yeah, playing semi-pro soccer with this dream aspiration to play pro. The statement that you became your own worst. So, so much passion for it all of this time and training and effort and singular focus. And then in the moment of need, it’s time to perform.

[00:23:58] You talk yourself out of it. That is something that so many engineering leaders I coach can relate to where the self-sabotage the negative voice in their head, the lack of confidence. There’s a lot of words we might use to describe the experience, but. Maybe there’s a story or a moment where would really articulate like, what was that?

[00:24:17] How did that show up for you in that experience? Because I know people can relate to that. I just wanna go deeper. 

[00:24:25] Ben Ritter: I remember a specific moment when I was playing in college. I got subbed into a game and I wasn’t often subbed into a game, and for some reason my mind was clear and I reached a flow. to achieve a state of flow, you cannot be talking to yourself.

[00:24:42] You have to be completely present in the moment. it’s so interesting when you think about performing at your highest level, that to do that, you actually can’t be using the critical thinking part of your brain. You have to be actually acting on instinct. And so for some reason at this, point, this game, I entered a state of flow and I crushed it absolutely crushed.

[00:25:04] and I felt so good about my performance, about how I played, and I was like, that’s who I am. That’s who I can be all the time. And not only did I notice it, but I got started again in the next game and I was terrible. that voice was back. It was screaming at me. What are you gonna do? Make sure you don’t mess up.

[00:25:27] You know, everyone’s watching. You’re terrible. I can’t believe you did that, right? One mistake ends up building upon itself, and it was so frustrating because at that point in time, I didn’t have the ability to have now to minimize that inner critic and to have as strong of an inner champion as I, as I have now.

[00:25:46] I didn’t know to trust my instincts. I didn’t know that hesitation was the cause for mistake. and just to make a decision and to trust yourself. And I couldn’t get it back. And so when you asked that question like, can I, can I walk you through a moment of where my inner critic is yelling? I think it’s more prominent when you think back on these moments in your life where everything was perfect, everything just was like you had like magic powers.

[00:26:12] And when you think about those moments, it’s cause you didn’t care how you did. You were so invested in the moment that you just. . And the reason why we mess up is because we are so outside of ourselves that we’re inside of ourselves. Like we’re so worried about what’s going on around us and doubting and wondering how it impacts us.

[00:26:32] So hopefully that adds 

[00:26:33] Zach White: a little bit of clarity. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, I could think the boardroom equivalent of that, right? Or the, you know, maybe someone’s not at the sea suite level, but just going into that room, , you’re so busy worrying about coming across as intelligent or as a leader or as whatever, that then all of the preparation, you don’t trust yourself.

[00:26:55] There’s no more instinct, there’s no, it’s just you’re just racing in that self-talk the whole time. Well, it’s like what do I look 

[00:27:02] Ben Ritter: like on camera? Right. And I’m so worried about what I’m looking, I’m looking at everyone’s faces. What are they thinking? What are they doing? Instead of just, yeah, talking. . Yeah.

[00:27:12] Saying what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling like it’s going back to this idea that hesitation, is the root it prevents flow. Oof. And if you are someone in an, an professional environment at the moment, trying a wonder, well, I’m struggling with this. I don’t know what to do, just do, just like literally say the thing that’s on your mind.

[00:27:32] And as long as it’s not, disparaging abusive harassment. If it’s an idea, say it. If you have other information that is going to help a situation, say it. Like, don’t worry about the perfect words to use. Don’t worry about the right timing. Don’t worry about the fact that maybe there’s a skip level leader in the room, right?

[00:27:52] Some sort of C-suite executive. Just let’s just try it once a meeting to drop the hesitation, to drop the doubt, to drop the voice and just be within the moment. 

[00:28:02] Zach White: That’s really good. The phrase that I coach my engineering clients on for this is that energy comes before strategy. I mean, you can imagine, Ben, you put a, a really deep analytical thinker, an engineered type of person into these conversations, and they’ll say, well, okay, well what should I say to my boss?

[00:28:21] Give, give me the script. I want the words, tell me exactly how to have this one-on-one, or how to present this idea, or how to speak up more without looking silly. They wanna know the details and I just remind people what you said is completely true. , I could give you the perfect script, but if you’re still delivering it with that voice in your head and from a place of a lack of confidence, and it’s not in that intuitive flow energy, it’s not gonna land the way you want it to, like just get into the right energy first, then we can talk about better words as you improve and learn and master these skills.

[00:29:03] But first, , just say something like, I don’t care what you say, , trust yourself. Just say something. I don’t know. Do you have any thoughts, 

[00:29:10] Ben Ritter: thoughts about that? if you really can’t say anything, type it. Put it in the chat and send it initially. But I’d say the number one thing that gets in people’s way, especially if they’re virtual, is that they’re not actually in the meeting.

[00:29:23] Yeah, they’re, yeah. Super distracted. And if you look at any executive leader in a meeting, and I’d say this is a, the majority of the. They are not typing, they’re not looking at anything. That’s right. They’re not having side chats. They are looking at the meeting and talking. 

[00:29:42] the most important thing and the most important use of their time is that meeting right then and there. and if you go, you go lower down. If you goes, you go down the line of hierarchy, you see more and more people get distracted. 

[00:29:53] Zach White: Absolutely. Until you have the, the room with 30 people in it, in some kind of staff meeting or, or recurring meeting, and half the room or more are on their laptop doing something totally different.

[00:30:03] Right. It’s like not, they’re not in at all except 

[00:30:06] Ben Ritter: the executive 

[00:30:06] Zach White: leaders. Yeah. Really important observation there. Ben. I wanna uh, I wanna go so many places, but you made a comment too. Your transformation from that place in the world of soccer to investing in personal development, that it demanded a certain level of discomfort.

[00:30:28] And one of the key mantras of my life that has become part of our brand at Oaco is what we call C4 living. C4 being crushed, comfort, and create. , and I really believe in this notion wholeheartedly, that to become a new person means facing fears. It means doing uncomfortable things. It’s a willingness to go, through action, become a new person, not through just idea and thinking.

[00:30:55] what are some examples of discomfort that you faced in your transformation? 

[00:31:03] Ben Ritter: Imagine having a last minute meeting scheduled on your calendar for maybe six 30 at night or 7:00 PM at night, and you already have dinner reservations booked with your partner or even your friends.

[00:31:15] Imagine telling your boss that you can’t make that meeting, and when your boss asks you why, , you feel comfortable enough saying, cause I have dinner reservations.

[00:31:26] Did I make people uncomfortable yet? 

[00:31:28] Zach White: I love it. . I’m, I’m so happy right now. I don’t, people are just on the audio. Can’t see my, I’m celebrating this because these are exactly the moments that come up all the time in coaching with engineering leaders and it’s so critical. So, so, I’m uncomfortable hearing you say it, just even thinking about my, my wonderful clients.

[00:31:47] But keep going. Okay. 

[00:31:49] Ben Ritter: So I’m getting more prof, I’m getting less professional as we go cause I wanna go into my personal story cuz now I have, I have pretty se like severe. professional boundaries. Like they, I am very much, I’m gonna yoga at noon. See you later, . You know, I’m very, very honest about that. uh, one more professional one.

[00:32:08] I actually, when I was working in healthcare and I used to have these boundaries cuz they developed for my personal work of being uncomfortable, I went to my boss and I asked for 30 days off. So I worked in an acute care hospital. I was a manager of business operations. I walked in her room and I said, can I get 30 days off?

[00:32:24] And she said, why? And I said, going on a reality show.

[00:32:27] So imagine that. And so I got 30 days off the only disclaimer was if you’re not back in 30 days, then we’re gonna give your job to someone else. We’re gonna hire somebody. I said, great, we’ll be back in 30 days. Amazing. Got back in two and a half weeks, but it was because I got voted off.

[00:32:42] But , it was a boundary and I can’t tell you how much I. , you know, in a room and was wondering like, can I ask for this? I did and it was fine. So personally though, the things that I did that were uncomfortable, and these were bigger for me, I’d see two people sitting on a bench together and I asked to, I asked for them to move, to sit in between them.

[00:33:04] Mm-hmm. , I would run down a sidewalk and downtown Chicago and high fiving every.

[00:33:11] I would take a french fry off someone’s plate in a restaurant. I would go off on my own and just be social to people on the street and in the bar. Just talk to them. 

[00:33:22] Zach White: Where did the ideas come from? Yeah. Was this something that you were just ideating along the way? Like how can I get uncomfortable for the sake of growth?

[00:33:31] Or was there a method to the madness on choosing what. . So 

[00:33:36] Ben Ritter: when you are at least, this was like four or five, so almost 20 years ago, yeah. Almost that long. When you went online and asked chiefs or Yahoo, whatever was on around the Ask Chiefs and typed in how to become confident for a guy, you got a lot of like interpersonal social dynamics, right?

[00:33:57] A lot of kind of like how to meet women kind of. . Mm-hmm. . And so my first ever coaching role for five and a half years was actually a dating and relationship business. So I learned how to be a coach by taking men around the United States and showing them how to become confident. And 

[00:34:12] So I was, one of the things I would do is I go to a bar on my own to force myself to be uncomfortable and have conversations with people I wouldn’t drink. And I was talking to a table and there was a guy there, and I started talking to him and he goes, look man, I know what you’re doing. You gotta meet my boss.

[00:34:26] I met his boss the next day, his whole team actually, and they hired me to be their men’s coach across the United States. That was actually my first ever experience in professional coaching was what, through that serendipitous moment of becoming uncomfortable. And it just goes to also show that like when you make yourself uncomfortable, you give the universe the opportunity to change your life.

[00:34:46] if you stay within the boundaries that you think you have to stay within, then you are limiting the. From its potential impact and what is you potentially could 

[00:34:57] Zach White: achieve. That’s so good. I’ll share a little version of that in my life right now. You go back to 2017, I was taking on a role, still in my corporate life, but I moved from engineering.

[00:35:12] To a stretch role in product and brand marketing and wanted to, master the business aspect of what we were doing and challenge myself and, got this role with no mba, no marketing experience at all. So for anybody who thinks you need a perfect resume, I was a mechanical engineer with no business being in product and brand marketing, and I landed that job at Whirlpool.

[00:35:34] Well, we went to a conference. Just started taking time to go meet as many people as I could who looked like they had energy, just literally walking around this giant conference center. And I met a chef named Charles Wep, who was an incredible guy, brilliant world renowned, doing some amazing things, visionary chef.

[00:35:57] We stayed in touch, had all these, you know, little moments, crossing paths, watching him succeed, and just two weeks. , I texted him, Hey Chef, you know, it’s been a long time since we’ve connected. How’s your new project going? And he replies with, oh, we, we need to talk like this. We’ve got some really cool stuff happening.

[00:36:16] Let’s chat. How soon can you chat? So we booked a call, this was a week ago now, and he shares with me what he has going on, and it sounds amazing. And I just said, well, hey, I have an idea. What if you could get somebody like so-and-so to host a dinner and do something with some influencers and blah, blah, blah?

[00:36:32] And he looked right back at me and. How about instead of so and so, that’s Zack White. And I immediately had that moment, Ben, of like, ugh, like, I’m not ready for that. I don’t have that level of audience, I don’t have the, the clout to be doing a celebrity dinner. Like, who would I even invite and, uh, and can I afford to do this, what that was a week ago?

[00:36:56] Now I’m gonna be in LA in April for three days hosting an intimate 12 person celebrity dinner. and at this mansion in Beverly Hills that I rented, and I have no idea how it’s all gonna come together exactly, but it’s gonna be perfect. And it’s way outta my, my comfort zone. But like all of this doesn’t happen without just putting myself outta my comfort zone in 2017 to meet some new people.

[00:37:20] And now I’m gonna be in a room with a bunch of high powered influencers, just having fun, getting to know them. There’s no even objective. It’s just to have dinner, but you never know. Now what? Exponentially grow out of, out of that. So I love what you’re saying. It’s so important as a matter of habit to live this way.

[00:37:41] Ben, I want to get into so many more things around jobs and your work and it’s so amazing. But I also wanna be respectful of your time and make sure we, we land a plane if I circle back, Our original statement of how downer David changes his life and becomes an, on my terms, Tom , We went down that trail of clarity and confidence. But you mentioned that third piece was now we have control and engineers especially get kind of wound up about this idea of feeling in control. So, . Give us a little bit on that last piece. What does it mean to have agency or control in our lives, and how does 

[00:38:23] Ben Ritter: that show up?

[00:38:24] and we want to create a career. We are where we are proactive instead of reactive, and so when we don’t have clarity, we don’t have confide. We very much are reactive in our career. There’s no intention. Becoming proactive means that we create a sense of control over our career.

[00:38:45] We don’t have control over everything, but we have control over some things, and that control relates to our mental beliefs, our perception of the world around. How we show up emotionally, how we intentionally work towards what we’ve discovered through clarity. And how we use our confidence in ourselves and our knowledge of who we are to no matter what happens in our career.

[00:39:14] Figure out the how and the what to create the why. And so let’s say I’m laid off, I had no control over that, but I do have control over if I go on a bend. Or if I sleep for a month, two months straight, I have control to actually go back to my values and my goals and the things that I’m doing and to adjust them based on this new fact that I’ve been laid off.

[00:39:41] And so control is how am I utilizing my environment around me, adapting it, adding to it, changing it. Even cutting things out. Cutting things out is a big. Cutting out negative relationships, cutting out negative jobs, negative work. How am I using the control that I have to help me live a life that’s more fulfilled?

[00:40:01] Zach White: Use the control you have. Ben, where can engineering leaders, Get more from you, connect with you and continue to pull this thread. If it’s something that resonates and they just feel that sense of, uh, I want more, you know, don’t, don’t hesitate. Reach out to Ben. Where can they do that? Well go to live for 

[00:40:22] Ben Ritter: yourself, because you can find my YouTube page there, my podcasts, I’m sure they’ll find our episode up there.

[00:40:29] But also I’m serious. Reach out to me on LinkedIn, Dr. Benjamin Ritter. And let’s connect, and if there’s something you wanna know more about, send me a message, ask the question.

[00:40:36] I’ll read and respond to 

[00:40:37] Zach White: everyone. , We will make sure all of those links are in the show notes. So go there now, wherever you’re listening to this and engage, I cannot say enough about the content, the work that you do, Ben, and encourage everybody, go listen to the Executive Deliver For Yourself Revolution podcast.

[00:40:53] We’ll put those links as well in the show notes and, uh, some just incredible content to go engage with. So love what you’re doing and honored to be a part of it. Ben, to land the the episode here. I’m excited to hear your perspective as a great coach, as somebody who’s been in this world of transformation Questions.

[00:41:13] and answers follow, and everybody wants better answers for their life. They wanna become that on your terms, Tom person. So what would be the best question that you would lead the happy engineer out there with today? 

[00:41:28] Ben Ritter: 

[00:41:28] If you were to hire someone to lead. , what would your conversation be in a one-on-one with them?

[00:41:37] So let’s say you hired someone, your number one leader, and you had an hour of their time in a one-on-one, what would you talk about? 

[00:41:45] Zach White: Wow, Really unique. Nobody’s ever given an. To my question with that question. So this is fantastic.

[00:41:53] Thank you again for your generosity, Ben. It’s been awesome to have you and we’re gonna have to stay in touch. I, I’ve got a hundred more questions so part two, we’ll have to make it happen. I’m looking forward to it.