The Happy Engineer Podcast

106: Experience Money Freedom and Million Dollar Side Hustles with Tony Whatley | Founder of 365 Driven and Best-Selling Author

In this episode, you will meet an oil & gas mechanical engineer, turned million dollar side-hustle entrepreneur, turned high-performance coach, author, podcast host, and a new friend of mine, Tony Whatley.

We talk about what it means to become a better driver in the race of our careers.

Tony shares a critical insight about our priority, and challenges us to escape scarcity in our mindset and actions.

You will have a choice coming out of this episode, a choice of which hard thing you will do.

After leading $100MM+ international projects as an engineer, selling his side-hustle business for millions of dollars at age 34, and publishing an Amazon #1 best-selling book, Side Hustle Millionaire… Tony has more than a little wisdom to help you.

So press play and let’s chat… and let’s all stay 365 Driven!

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



[00:00:55] Passion for cars led to successful businesses.

[00:09:13] Manual transmission wins, invest in valuable skills.

[00:12:53] Corporate job paid less, started side hustle.

[00:17:24] Awareness of bigger organizational picture helps performance.

[00:21:27] Call everything a priority and act accordingly.

[00:24:00] Project management skills for achieving business goals.

[00:29:21] Engineering identity built on scarcity mindset.

[00:30:44] Engineer identity limits potential for success.

[00:36:32] Executive path takes too long, start business.

[00:38:34] Start sooner, fear is indicator of growth.

[00:43:29] Choose success. Choose better problems. Find resources.

[00:46:12] “Success is who, not how”





Previous Episode 105: How to Reduce Stress and Improve Daily




Happy engineer, let’s dive into some engaging conversation. 

If you’re a Dodge Viper enthusiast, shoot me an email at [email protected] with a photo of your favorite Viper. I’d love to connect with you on that. But now, let’s get down to business.

Tony has left us with more than just knowledge. He wants us to take action. 

So, ask yourself, what’s the number one problem you’re facing in your career right now? 

Maybe it’s reaching the director level, breaking through to the C-suite, or finding your path in a large organization.

Instead of trying to solve it on your own, reach out to the first two people in your network who have overcome that same challenge. 

Whether it’s a director of engineering, a vice president, a recently promoted colleague, or even a trusted coach, connect with them today. Don’t wait.

Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone directly. Tap into your network and find those who are most likely connected to someone who has solved the problem. 

Take action and don’t make excuses.

When reaching out, keep your message short and sweet. Simply ask for a quick 10-minute conversation about a question or problem you’re struggling with. 

People are busy, so be considerate of their time. They’re more likely to say yes to a 10-minute request, and they might even give you more time willingly.

If you’re up for it, I’m here to support you too. 

Join our next Happy Hour live event

I’ll be there to offer one-on-one support and coach you on overcoming your number one barrier. You can count on me.

Let’s take action now. Identify your top barrier, reach out to two people who can help, and don’t forget to include me if you need support

We’re here at OACO to be part of your journey toward a fulfilling career and life. 

Let us know how we can assist you. Stay tuned for our upcoming Happy Hour and our next episode. 

Together, we’ll make it happen. 

Keep crushing comfort!



Tony Whatley is a 20+ year serial entrepreneur, business coach, best-selling author, podcast host, and speaker. He is Co-Founder of LS1Tech, an online automotive performance community which grew into the largest of its kind.

This website grew to over 300,000 registered members and 150 advertising accounts, and was later sold for millions, in only 5 years. Amazingly… it was just his part-time business!

Tony shares his mindset and business strategies within his Amazon #1 best-selling book, Side Hustle Millionaire, and teaches people how to startup, scale, and exit their companies.

With his previous oil/gas profession, managing $100M+ international projects, he consults small businesses on how to benefit from his expertise in processes, systems, and leadership.

His purpose is to help people gain the knowledge and courage to take action. He strives to help others become the best version of themselves.

When not performing the work that he loves, you can usually find Tony and his wife Lisa traveling the world, or racing cars.



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

[00:00:00] Zach White: Tony, my man. Welcome to the Happy Engineer Podcast. Glad you’re here.

[00:00:03] Tony Whatley: Hey Zach and the other guy with the ‘W’ last name. We always stood at the end of the line, but here we are, the front of the line together. 

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:10] Zach White: That’s right. Last in line to first in line. That’s so good. Uh, how have you been since LA, man? 

[00:00:16] Tony Whatley: All good. We’re just doing some final wrap up on the event that we got coming up in Portugal in July and just speaking at a few different events since I saw you last. 

[00:00:26] Zach White: Okay, brilliant. Well, speaking of saw you last, we we’re hanging in Los Angeles with Louis Howes at his book launch event, and we got to talking and.

[00:00:37] One of my favorite topics came up and it involves cars. So Tony, really quick recap. What is your history with cars and maybe how we got to my favorite vehicle of all times, still to this day, but tell us Tony and cars. Where 

[00:00:54] Tony Whatley: did that begin? Yeah, I think since you have a audience of engineers, I think some of us are just born.

[00:01:00] Car guys. I actually pursued my mechanical engineering degree because of cars, because I wanted to know under understand how everything worked and all the different systems. It kind of fascinated me. So yeah, my intention was going to school to maybe work at the big three and design COR vets or Camaros, like the dream jobs right in the United States.

[00:01:19] And I got sucked into the oil and gas cuz it just paid a lot more. But I still built businesses in automotive performance. So background, I guess. My first company I started was in 2001. I created LS one, which is a general motorist performance car community. We grew that to over 300,000 registered members.

[00:01:39] Multiple seven figure business. And then I created the same business model with trucks, guys that like to race trucks called performance And we grew that one to about 280,000 registered members. Both those had the same advertising accounts from established relationships. In that business model, about 150 advertisers.

[00:01:56] We did racing events around the country and all the hot beds of the country to kinda get people off of their keyboards and off of their screen names. Yeah. Cause I’m a community guy. I want people to get off, come out and meet each other, race each other, become lifelong friends. And that’s what we did.

[00:02:09] And we sold that company to our private equity company for a few million in 2007, 2009, exits. so I built some online e-comm type businesses in the automotive wheel industry and run a business in the background as a seven figure business. Just selling wheels, high-end forged wheels, and.

[00:02:26] So I’ve always been in the automotive space and racing cars, and earliest part of my racing was more focused on drag racing cuz that’s what I could afford at the time. And then somewhere around 2005, I started getting more into the road course and going to driving schools and getting more focused on the Corvette’s and the Dodge Vipers and things that could actually go faster on the track instead of in a straight line only.

[00:02:47] And so that kind of led up to our conversation of my wife and I both have Dodge Vipers. I bought mine new when I sold that company in 2006, 2007. And then we got hers in 2014 when the Gen five came out with the ta. So one of 33 cars, solid white. So 

[00:03:03] Zach White: good. I know. Everybody’s like, wait a minute, let’s talk about these companies, and we will in a moment, but when you told me you and your wife both have vipers and you raced vipers.

[00:03:13] Mm-hmm. I still to this day have my steel. Wall poster, you know, it’s like printed on steel mm-hmm. With the 1996. Yep. Blue with white Stripes, gts, when that came out. I still have it. I still love it. And there is just nothing that gets me more, in that zone of passion around cars than talking about vipers.

[00:03:36] So, um, tell me from racing Vipers mm-hmm. What makes them the best and what makes it absolutely terrible? 

[00:03:45] Tony Whatley: with the Dodge Viper, they’re all manuals. They never made an automatic viper period, so you had to actually become a better, more proficient driver to get good lap times. So, you know, a lot of times people are like, oh, well, you know, technology or dual clutch this and that, and pdk, Porsches, and.

[00:04:00] Guys, I can go the same speed around the track and have the same laptop as those guys in their own cars. But I could throw them the keys to my, and they couldn’t even come close because they don’t know what it’s like to run in a car with has, you know, we just had a BS in the 2006 pipe, right? Doesn’t even have traction control or any that kind of nannies.

[00:04:17] So you really had to become a better driver. I mean, it’s the earlier vipers, the gin four and older. Really just had AB b s except for like, I guess, 2000, the year two thousands when even a b S got introduced to the VI and the GIN two. So, you got some early gin one s and and gen two s that didn’t even have anti analog brakes and you still had to be able to drive those very fast.

[00:04:37] So I. These cars handle exceptionally well. A lot of times people think, oh, it’s a big V 10, 8.3, 8.4 liter, and you know, they can’t handle. But guys, if you go look in history of all the Viper production years, they’ve set course records around the world. They’ve won some of the biggest racing events back when Dodge was involved in those racing.

[00:04:56] So they’re actually built to be road race cars. Although we see a lot of guys nowadays. Putting the giant twin turbos on ’em and going straight line, 2000, 3000 horsepower. So you know, my 2006, it’s a blue with white striped car. And when I bought that one actually what I was more focused on the straight line stuff when we built that to about 1200 at the wheels.

[00:05:15] And so, you know, supercharged nitrous car, wow. Took it all back down, making twin turbos and things like that go to pursue 1500. And that car went 209 miles per hour in a standing mile back when it was like 1100 horsepower. So, oh, my goal was to try to get to 200 miles per hour in a standing half mile. It went 188 miles per hour at about 1250 at the wheels.

[00:05:36] And so 1500 is kind of where you need the power to weight ratio to kind of achieve that 200 mile per hour and from zero to half miles. So I’ve done it all in the vipers and man, I just like American cars. I really do. I appreciate all cars. I love exotics, I love all these different things, but I just really appreciate American cars and they have so much character and charisma and they’re just very bold and they’re in your face and yeah.

[00:05:58] Yeah. Viper productions are very low. And it’s funny that you talked about the 96, the blue and white. That was actually a magazine center spread that actually had on my cork board when I was in college, and I graduated in 1998 and they quit making them by then. So, There’s no way I could have afforded one at that time anyways, but I was like, oh, maybe I’ll get one used someday.

[00:06:18] And I never really thought about that. And then, you know, I kept seeing this thing. We talk about visualization and stuff like that, so this blue and white viper just kept reappearing in my life when I was writing and shooting for magazines in the automotive space. I would do reviews on cars and sometimes a blue and white viper would show up and I’m like, man, I could start to see myself.

[00:06:36] And I spent a whole day with these things and videoing them and taking photos with them and hearing them. It’s like, man, I’d love to have that one day. And I just, I don’t know how I’m gonna go buy a hundred thousand dollars car. And it just kept working that way. And then a year later after I did a photo shoot of one on GM high-tech performance, a magazine I was a staff member on.

[00:06:53] I was like, man, I’d love to have one of these. And the guys like, they, they started making again, 2006, they got, you know, a new Gen three B with white stripes again. You know, it’s like, oh, that’s awesome. I was like, dude, how much are they? He’s like, he’s like $96,000. Like, that’s still a lot of money.

[00:07:07] That’s a lot of money. And the next year I sold my company for millions and I was able to go buy one of those and just write a check for it. So, That’s the kind of thing I think about manifestation and visualization. I started back in 95 when that blue and white was like a concept car, and I was like, dude, I’m a Chevy guy.

[00:07:24] I love gm. But when that blue with white Coop came out, I was like, dude, that is sexy. It’s like a Shelby Daytona coop from the sixties. It’s like, got the race cars, got the proportions. I love the stripes. Carol Shelby had a lot to do with the design and development, the early vipers. That’s why it kind of went like a homage to him.

[00:07:41] And I never thought I would own one or much less. Have a couple of them now, but it’s something that if you put it on your vision board, your brain will always work in the background and try to figure out that goal for you. That’s why it’s very important to visualize things and to see yourself in those and experience those even in an imagination, because eventually your brain’s gonna figure out that problem solving thing and it’s gonna figure it out.

[00:08:01] How to get that 

[00:08:02] Zach White: for you, Tony? There’s like two or three things in that story. That I love, and I wanna unpack multiple of them, but one is this idea of becoming a better driver. Hmm. And I think engineers can relate to the challenge we face now that might be different than decades ago. could argue it’s been a trend in engineering since the beginning of whatever we would call engineering, but building on the back of the technologies that have come before us, and to push that to the edge and beyond.

[00:08:31] There’s more and more and more to come up to speed with, and in many cases we just throw new engineers the keys to that, incredibly high tech vehicle and say, just take it around the track. But there’s something about the fundamentals, and of course every university is seeking to solve that problem.

[00:08:48] But what would you say is the equivalent in our careers and businesses? Of where we need to be intentional to become better drivers versus where it’s okay to just take what’s been created by the people who came before us and enjoy it without any concern for how we got here. What’s the dance between those two?

[00:09:11] How do we make those decisions? 

[00:09:13] Tony Whatley: Man, that’s a good one. Before I answered that, I wanted to give you a, a perspective I had about automatics versus manual transmissions. Okay. Back when I was drag racing i’d, go bracket racing where you had to dial your car and you basically had to write it down to the hundredth of a second.

[00:09:28] You had to run it right on that dot. You couldn’t go faster than that. You would lose so, I was in the sportsman class, which was like the guys that had professional race cars, like they were building these cars and I had a manual. I was like the only manual in that class. And to give you an idea that the car was like mid 10 seconds and this is like late nineties, and I won a lot of those events with a manual against a field of automatics.

[00:09:51] And here’s the one perspective, I’ll share it with you about good driving is the announcers knew that I was a manual driver. Like they knew it and they’d be like, guys, can you hear how fast he’s shifting? He’s faster than these automatics. And I literally was, we timed the things. the funny thing about that is when you win with an automatic car, they say, Hey man, your car runs good.

[00:10:09] Car runs good when you win with a manual car. They say, great driving. There’s a big distinction between those two. Yes. So if you’re trying to think about how we use this analogy for business or our careers, I would think that what are the things that we can control and become exceptionally good at on our own and challenge ourselves?

[00:10:28] Because yeah, we are in a world of automations, like you said, and engineers are always trying to figure out problems and reduce this and that, but there’s certain skills that we should always retain, or at least skills that we should learn. we all went to engineering school to learn something, but why are so people so, looking forward to getting rid of these kind of things that are actually valuable skills, like for me, like communication, right?

[00:10:49] Public speaking, putting yourself on video, creating content, all these things that, yeah, we can have AI write out a blog post and put out your social media content and write a transcript, but at the end of the day, it’s still a valuable skill that’s not going to only apply for business, but your entire life.

[00:11:04] So if you’re a. Introvert like you are, and I am. We both know we are. We can also operate like extroverts when required, and we can put ourselves on camera, we can put ourselves on stage. And it was not comfortable for me to do that, but it was a skill that I was willing to go invest in. Understanding that the longevity of having that skillset, I could transfer that to anything that I wanted to do in my entire life.

[00:11:24] And the businesses that I’m running now may be temporary and the, you may see me in 10 years doing something else and, and 10 years after that seeing something else. So, Think about the tangible skills that you can go invest in and learn and become exceptional at, whether that’s content creation, what I think everybody should be figuring out how to build a personal brand.

[00:11:40] I think everybody should have some kind of a evergreen content right now, whether that’s a YouTube channel or a podcast. And then you should also be really understanding of the content you create, whether that’s reels or shorts or things like that, because. Eventually, yeah, you may hire an editor, you have an editing team to go do that for you, but you’re gonna still want to understand how they do it and understand what the work is involved to be.

[00:12:00] Be able to become a creator. That way you can also negotiate some of those service contracts. 

[00:12:05] Zach White: Yes. Okay. So I know if I was had had my career engineer hat on, I’d probably start thinking, Tony, what are you talking about? Personal brands, content podcast. Why do I need all this stuff? Let’s back it up. You come from.

[00:12:18] The mechanical engineering background like myself. Mm-hmm. the work that you’re known for today, you know, your, your bestselling book, side Hustle Millionaire, your podcast 365 Driven, and the community, the society that you’ve built around this dream for many people becoming entrepreneurs, of building businesses, exiting companies, and having those million dollar payouts plus, like you’re talking about.

[00:12:41] So take me back. Where were you in life? What were you doing when you. Had the idea and started that first side hustle company that you told us about earlier. 

[00:12:53] Tony Whatley: I did interview with some of the suppliers in the big three when I got out of of college. And man, it sounded like really interesting, fascinating work, but I did not want to live in the Detroit area.

[00:13:04] I’m a Houston native. We have better weather than you guys six months out of the year. And so I didn’t wanna deal with that. And then also the salary offers were, were literally half the price, I think back then starting salary for like a junior engineer, 32,000 a year, something really low. Where in Houston I could start out at 50, 55,000 with the same level of experience.

[00:13:28] And I could stay home and I could actually afford the cars that I was gonna go design. So I actually bought myself a Trans Am brand new when I graduated. Cause like this is my gift to myself cuz I landed a, you know, a good salary. So that was my foray to go into the oil and gas, especially the pro, the offshore industry, which where I said for 20 years, But I still needed that creative outlet.

[00:13:47] I think early in my engineering career, I was more fascinated cause I was doing some modeling with Kaia and ProE and learning new gizmos and learning how to code and stuff like that. So I loved to be in creating and building things. But eventually you start moving into that lower middle management range and you’re not doing the technical things anymore and you’re just oversight and you’re the QC and the leader type roles.

[00:14:08] And so you kind of have that itch where like, dude, I still like to create things but I’m not. I’m really doing that anymore. I have eight hours of just managing personalities and helping people become better for themselves. And so that automotive thing, it was always the racing and I was like, you know, if I’m gonna go race every week, why don’t I just start an L L C and figure out how to, make money doing that.

[00:14:29] That way it can fund my hobby. yes, and to give you an eyes an idea. When I started that website, I didn’t think about making millions of dollars. I just thought about, Hey, my Trans Am. The car note was $500 a month. I said if I could build something to make $500 a month in that industry, As a side hustle, that would be pretty cool to make 500 bucks extra a month to pay for my car Note I have a free car essentially.

[00:14:50] And guys, it just grew and grew and grew and within the first eight, nine months we were already making about $10,000 profit per month and eventually we’re making about 400,000 a year profit on the side business. That didn’t really require a lot of my time, cuz you see as engineers and the people working in large corporations especially, we understand systems, processes and people.

[00:15:13] Things that most small business owners struggle with, cuz they don’t even understand org charts, they don’t understand processes, they don’t understand risk mitigation, they don’t understand cash flow management. But these are things that we get exposed to in corporate, especially if you’re managing projects.

[00:15:27] That you can apply. So if you guys are out there thinking about entrepreneurship and you’re working in a corporate setting, start paying attention to the things that they do, especially at a project level. Because if you think about that, it’s very similar in operations to a small business. So get your hands on those contracts and get your hands on the money and managing the people, and you start to realize like, man, all the stuff that I’m learning are actually getting paid to learn.

[00:15:48] Sometimes even extracurricular lessons and things that they would send us to these leadership courses and stuff. I can apply that. So I’ve built these companies with the right processes and systems. Early on I was the person. And eventually within a year, I was able to make enough money to put the other people in there to manage the servers and manage the securities and mm-hmm.

[00:16:06] You know, do all the stuff, the graphic design and the coding and all that stuff. So, that’s the way it grows. And I had this really demanding career at the same time. Being gone and offshore and sometimes in different countries. I worked in all over Europe and in Africa, and so I couldn’t be online all the time.

[00:16:21] I had to be able to build this thing to work without me, and you know, that’s why my book, you know, side Hustle Millionaires because I literally had to build this thing that did not require my presence after the first year. That still made millions of dollars. Yes. 

[00:16:34] Zach White: I think the lens that you just painted is one that many engineering leaders.

[00:16:39] Struggle to put on that. Oh, I work in the Fortune 500, so I don’t have. What it takes or the awareness or the skillset or, you know, I’m very scared. There’s a lot of fear about starting some kind of business, whether it’s full-time entrepreneurship or side hustle. Either one, there’s this default setting that mm-hmm.

[00:16:57] Well, I don’t really know what that’s all about because I work in the Fortune 500 and if, if you flip that on its head, it’s like, well, wait a minute. If there’s something the Fortune 500 is doing to be in that level of elite company that has grown and scaled to that. Place, like let’s go look for the key pieces that you’re going to be able to leverage and, and get your education for free from the 

[00:17:20] Tony Whatley: Yeah.

[00:17:20] Or getting paid. Getting paid to get that education. It’s, yeah, even better. It’s odd though. I mean, I get it. You’re wired that way. I’m wired that way. Most people in the employee space will call it for what it is, are not wired that way. Most of them are too heavily focused on their day-to-day tasks.

[00:17:37] That’s why they think that their benchmark is measured by, and, Hey, if I keep doing a good job, I’ll get a promotion, a 3% raise, or maybe a 10% raise if I change companies like you think these really small building blocks and you create these false glass ceilings of what your limit of your potential is.

[00:17:52] And so, You’re so heavily focused on tasks, especially if you’re overworked, or underappreciated. Both of the combination of those, and you don’t really have that awareness to step back and see the bigger picture. some people maybe step back a little bit, then they focused on their department.

[00:18:08] Maybe you’re in the engineering department or the projects department. So you kind of get an idea of how that works. But if you’re really start to understand awareness, you take a bigger step back and go, Hey, How does projects interface with logistics and register over here with accounting and legal and the contracting and operations.

[00:18:27] Like we need to see, start to see the interfaces between all these different departments and what do they need and what do they need and how do I best serve them? And are we being redundant with our communications over here? So you start to see the building blocks of an entire organization, which is how a CEO looks at a company.

[00:18:41] They look at all of these things like a dashboard every. Department is a dashboard within an organization, and they have to make sure that each of these departments is operating. Almost independently because they’re still having to put out some kind of, positive work, but also what are the interfaces in the, friction that goes on between these things.

[00:18:58] So if you can work even from a junior project engineer type level, but also take a big enough step to have the awareness to go, Hey, what I do here affects these three different departments and this way, and this is why I shouldn’t do it that way, man, you’re gonna have a way better head start of understanding what you can do for small business.

[00:19:15] A hundred 

[00:19:15] Zach White: percent. Tony, I had in my corporate days. A relentless focus on creating mentorship relationships in every area of the business For this reason, deep curiosity about, how does the marketing. Organization, do what they do, what’s engineering doing, and how they’ve relayed what’s going on in finance, what’s going on in mm-hmm.

[00:19:38] the logistics and supply chain side of the business. Talking about branding, you know, go talk to the people who are building these brands. I went at Whirlpool, we have a lot of different brands that we owned and appliances, and how does the Maytag team think differently from the KitchenAid team, from the Whirlpool team, and how are they making those decisions?

[00:19:55] All of that stuff. So I just It’s underutilized, especially within a big company. How many people will gladly give you 20 minutes or 30 minutes of their time over a cup of coffee and answer any question you ask them? And to get that same education in any other way would cost you a fortune.

[00:20:14] Like it’s really a powerful thing to go do. So I wanted your perspective on this before I go deeper on how do we launch a side hustle or do what you’ve done, which I, you know, of course everybody wants to know like, how do I go get my million dollar payday? But is there a bad time or a wrong time for someone to take a dream or a passion, something they would wanna create a side hustle around and launch?

[00:20:40] Would you ever tell somebody, look, this is, it sounds great, but now is not the time for you. I’m curious if there’s ever a situation where you would coach 

[00:20:48] Tony Whatley: somebody that way. If we’re looking at it from the context of a side hustle. No, there’s never a bad time because. Most people will use that as an excuse.

[00:20:56] I don’t have time. I don’t have time, and this and that. But the reality is that nobody has time. It is the same situation and people still have figured it out. So you need to start looking at your day-to-day activities. Cause most people don’t manage time. If I ask, if someone tells me, Hey, I don’t have time.

[00:21:11] I tell ’em to pull out their phone and show me their calendar. And then they look at you with the deer and the headlights look because they know that you just called them out because they don’t even have a calendar that they operate from. Sure. Or even worse, they like, oh, look at their 

[00:21:22] Zach White: screen time app.

[00:21:24] You’ve got five hours on Exactly. Instagram 

[00:21:26] Tony Whatley: and the lights. There’s so much evidence out there. So yeah. Here’s a, here’s a mental trick for you. If this is hitting you in the core, which hope it does, whatever you’re doing every day, whatever tasks you are doing every single day, start calling those your priority.

[00:21:40] So if you’re deciding to start playing the video games after work every day, call that your priority and see if that sits with you well, and if it’s your priority, awesome. If you’re making money as a gamer, like cool, that’s your priority. But if you’re spending two or three hours doing that, and you call it your priority, is it really, is it really leading you to a potential destination that you would identify as your dream life?

[00:22:00] And if not, Then maybe it’s not really your priority. Maybe you need to start calling yourself out. So when I go to the gym every day, that’s a priority because that’s a very important meeting with myself, and I want the results. And I think health is number one above all things that you can achieve.

[00:22:15] Because without health, the wealth doesn’t matter. You know, people would pay whatever wealth they have to regain their health once they lose it. So understand that health is more valuable than wealth. And so. Start calling everything a priority. And if that hurts, when you say that’s your priority, like sitting on the couch watching Netflix is my priority.

[00:22:31] Yeah, that sounds really stupid. And it should be stupid because that’s your priority. That’s what you’re spending your time on. So, you know, that’s a little mental trick there. But dude, it’s uh, you gotta just get out there and do something, man. Yeah, 

[00:22:43] Zach White: I love this answer. I’m so, I’m not surprised knowing our conversations before to hear you say that, but, Everybody wants to go find the reason why now is not the perfect time to go start these things.

[00:22:56] you know, the most common rebuttal is, you know, but Tony, I’m already working 50 hours a week or more in my W2 job and I’ve got three kids at home and all these responsibilities around the house like. If I start a side hustle business, something’s going to suffer. Right? Is this this default setting?

[00:23:15] Yeah. That people bring into their life that there’s no solution to this time problem, and I’m with you a hundred percent. Like, okay then to either change the vision, stop talking about wanting this because you’re never gonna get it, or let’s change the mindset and start asking new questions. And shape this in a different way.

[00:23:35] So if you were gonna take me, so here’s Zach White back me up to, 2009 10 when I was first, thinking about side hustle businesses in a more serious way. I already did own a couple companies at the time, but if I said, Hey Tony, I need help. I really want to get after this and build a side hustle to something substantial, where do I begin?

[00:23:56] What are those fundamentals? What would you say is the 

[00:23:59] Tony Whatley: starting point? Hey, let’s, let’s borrow some skills from project management here. Maybe you’ll start to visualize this. With every project we have a defined result that we would like to achieve, don’t we? We have a level of quality. We have a budget, we have a schedule, and we have the deliverables list that we have to complete in order to close out the project.

[00:24:20] Well, think about that as your lifestyle or the business that you wanna create. That’s the end goal. That’s the delivery. You can define that. Everybody’s got a different answer. There’s no right answer, and so once you defined a deliverable, You need to assess that against the timeline that you’re giving yourself.

[00:24:34] If it’s one year, two years, three years, be realistic, right? And you’re gonna start to see gaps already forming. Maybe like, Hey, I don’t have enough financials here to get this thing launched, or I don’t have enough resources, which is employees or contractors. To be able to achieve this. Like if you’re being bidding this thing out as a project, like would it be realistic to you and be really realistic with that and understand that yeah, you may improve with time, but factor that into your long term.

[00:24:58] You can, using, using the Excel spreadsheet to do this. You could do it on a napkin. Don’t overthink this. Okay. And then you start to identify what are the individual tasks that I need to accomplish in order tochi achieve that project, that result, that business, that lifestyle. Yeah. How much do I need to earn on a daily basis, a weekly basis, a monthly basis deal, achieve the financial goals that we have?

[00:25:18] And so once you start to work backwards from your goal of your lifestyle or the business model that you want to have, sometimes you’re gonna have the hard reality that. The things just don’t add up properly and that’s okay. Mm-hmm. Because that’s the reality check. And just like a project, you’d be like, Hey, no bid, we can’t achieve this.

[00:25:33] We have to throw more resources at it here in third quarter, or we gotta have more startup capital be able to do that. So I don’t want that to discourage you. I just want you to understand that this is the thought process from even small businesses. Widgets being built at your kitchen table and trying to scale that, or even starting a multimillion dollar or billion dollar company, you should just always have that same thought process.

[00:25:54] And now here’s the thing that most people get discouraged. They go, Hey, I wanna build this dream business. I wanna make a million dollars a year. And they start doing the planning, and then they realize like, oh man, I’m gonna have to have like $500,000 in startup capital to even get this thing off the runway.

[00:26:08] Like I, I don’t have that kind of money and nobody’s gonna let me borrow that. You’re right. So, yeah, exactly. Most people will quit. They’ll be, ah, I guess entrepreneurship’s just not for me. I can’t do that. And that becomes like the roadblock. But real entrepreneurs get creative. They go, Hey, What smaller businesses could I create with the given revenue, the given income, the given resources, or the knowledge or the special access to tools or software that I have that I can already utilize?

[00:26:34] Like what are the things that I can use right now to build maybe that $500,000 business? And if that starts to cash flow, you put that reinvestment back in there and eventually you get to the next size business. And you keep growing these businesses like a staircase. Like you just start out small, start with what you can learn.

[00:26:50] Take the lessons when it’s inexpensive and you get punched in a face a bunch of times. Yes. And then you go build the mid-size business. Then the next one, the next one, and eventually you will be owning the one that you really wanted in the first place. But, there’s no skipping steps there.

[00:27:02] Like you can’t do these large jumps without capital raises. And, you know, we can go all, all into that with the social media and all the Silicon Valley type startups that look at their valuation based on capital raises, which to me is false. It’s not real valuation. So, you know, real entrepreneurs understand how to operate and make a profit.

[00:27:20] Zach White: I, first of all, the valuation comment makes me chuckle because my. Partners in private equity. We talk a lot about the VC world and I get it. I understand the model gambling. It’s gambling at that point. Yeah, it, it is a whole different world. And you look at some of these, you know, valuations. I’ve got a company we are invested in right now that has a, eight figure valuation, but I look at their monthly financials.

[00:27:45] It’s not that different from my business. It’s like, wow, I’m, okay. Well that’s, 

[00:27:48] Tony Whatley: that’s gambling. It’s just, it’s legalized gambling at that point. 

[00:27:52] Zach White: So I love the project management perspective and for engineers especially, we wanna see side hustles and entrepreneurship as this completely separate animal.

[00:28:01] And if you’ll just, Acknowledge the skill sets we have. Look at it through that systems engineering lens. These skills around managing resources, time, capital, people risk. oh, risk for sure if there’s a huge gap. I like the, if it’s a no bid, which resonates for, for you deeply, you just say, no, move on.

[00:28:21] Yeah. And then rather than pout about it and say, I guess I will never have the dream life, go find a different. Smaller step and just, yeah. Go. I think that’s, that’s really, really powerful. So tell me, for you, in the world of breaking free from this W2 life mm-hmm. One of the things that I’ve personally struggled with, and I, I mean, you’ve done it extremely successfully at a level beyond what I have, we get latched into some identity.

[00:28:54] Of who we are as an engineer in that context of our corporate life. And sometimes that creates the anchors or the friction to becoming the entrepreneur that we’re totally capable of becoming, but we’re not living into it because the identity is stuck or linked to this other version of ourselves.

[00:29:12] So I know we chatted about that a bit before we hit record today. can you tell us how you see that challenge, and then how did you overcome it yourself? 

[00:29:21] Tony Whatley: A lot of my engineering was based around a scarcity mindset because I grew up without money. And so in the American dream, they tell you go to pursue being a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer to go make six figures.

[00:29:34] So that was my dream. I’m 50 years old for context here and. I said, Hey, I like cars. Is there some way to go to school, learn something about cars? And they’re like, oh yeah, that’s mechanical engineering. He’s like, okay, cool. I was very average at math, but I had to figure that out, obviously, just study and apply myself.

[00:29:51] So every engineer I’ve ever met in my entire life has a level of intelligence. Let’s be real. You’re not dumb to go to engineering school. Like there’s no way to get through it. You can’t fake it in engineering school, any engineering. You have to realize that sometimes we build our identity because we come from a lower status or socioeconomic level.

[00:30:08] So we think that hey, if we become a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, all of a sudden we’re an elevated status. So you start building your identity around this degree. Or that persona. And when people introduce themselves, they always wanna tell their occupation. And hey, say an engineer is actually pretty impressive because they know that so few people have that.

[00:30:26] And when people hear that you went to an engineering school, they go, oh man, you must be smart. And so you got all these like endorphin releases about being an engineer. Like I’m, I’m pumping you guys up because it’s the truth. The problem is that you start to build your identity around being an engineer and you start to limit yourself and what your potential is, right?

[00:30:44] Yeah. And you’re like, well, what? What’s greater than being an engineer? It’s like being an entrepreneur, being an owner, being a C E O, being a founder, all those are greater than being an engineer. I hate to tell you like it’s, you don’t require these levels of education. In effect. You’re gonna look at all the studying you did and all the money that you spent on that education.

[00:31:02] And the scarcity mindset will step in and say, well, wouldn’t it be a waste to walk away from all that? Wouldn’t it be a waste to waste that 10 years, that 20 years, that 30 years of, occupational experience as an engineer? Like you keep this crap in your head. And I’ve, I’ve literally have friends I’ve known 20, 30 years in the oil industry that still believe this kind of stuff.

[00:31:22] And, you know, my engineering degree’s still hanging on the wall downstairs. It’s got dust on top of the frame. It’s not being used anymore. I don’t miss that part of my life. I learned a lot and I’m very grateful for that opportunity. But that was an old identity that no longer serves me. And when you start thinking about leaving your, profession and leaving that industry and things like that, understand that that was just one chapter of your life.

[00:31:44] And you’re gonna have a lot of takeaways from that. But it isn’t your identity. You’re meant to do greater things. Then just to limit yourself to being an engineer. Engineer’s a great thing, but you have far more potential. So don’t build your identity around like, well, I’m an engineer and I’m an engineer, and to give you an example of that, I remember, you know, being in my twenties and hanging out on the car forums, when you’re a 20 year old engineer, man, you’re cocky.

[00:32:08] You have like this ego about you, right? You’re like, man, I’m fresh, graduated and I can do calculus three and partial differential equations, and I know physics and how chemistry and, When people challenge your intelligence, you kind of get triggered by that, don’t you? You’re like, well, I’m just, I’m gonna keyboard grenade and respond back and show everybody how intelligent I am.

[00:32:28] And like, that’s a young engineer. That’s how that 20 year, like, I hope some 20 year old engineers are like, he’s, that’s me. Like, oh, I’m always gotta be right. 

[00:32:34] Zach White: I’m not that person anymore, Tony. But I have multiple bosses at Whirlpool who if they hear this conversation are like, that was Zack. What? 

[00:32:41] Tony Whatley: See, like, that’s what I mean.

[00:32:43] Like, that’s your, that’s your, like you, you’re still. You’ve earned a degree, but you still don’t feel like you deserve the status and you gotta prove something. your building that identity around the persona of that title, right? When you get in your thirties, you’re more focused on operations.

[00:32:58] I can’t speak for women, but most minimally focused on just making money and applying what they know and trying to climb the corporate ladder as fast as they can in them. Mediocre middle management, right? You lose a little bit of that in your thirties and then you start getting in your forties and you start becoming a little bit more retrospective and start looking back and go, man, I was like really cocky in my twenties just because I had a degree.

[00:33:18] And as a 40 something year old engineer, looking back, you’re like, man, I didn’t know crap in my twenties. He is like, I thought I was smart back then, I didn’t really didn’t know crap about crap. And so it’s kind of funny when you look back and now that I’m 50, I’m looking back even at age 40 and go, man, I thought I knew a lot at 40, but.

[00:33:34] I really didn’t know a lot about at 40, so I give you a perspective of that. I sold my company at 34. I was a 34 year old multimillionaire, and I thought I knew a lot at 34. At 40. I looked back at 34 and said, man, I didn’t really know a lot. Now I’m 50, looking back at 40 going, man, I really didn’t know a lot.

[00:33:50] So you will always learn if you’re investing in the skills and the knowledge and experiences and things in your lifetime, and that’s a great thing. So don’t let your current identity, your current job title, all that be who you are you’re destined to way better things than that.

[00:34:04] Mm-hmm. 

[00:34:06] Zach White: I’ve had many clients, Tony, who are in those, you know, late thirties, forties stretch, where they’re asking those hard questions in terms of, is this it? I made that middle management roll. Oh yeah. I’ve been stuck here for a while. I don’t really know if I wanna go try to be CTO in this huge company.

[00:34:25] I see that lifestyle, what they’re doing. I’m not sure if that’s for me, of course, already limiting ourselves that there’s no other way to be a a high level executive than to give up your whole life for the company. That’s a whole nother episode for another day. what I appreciate from your perspective, and what I challenge my clients in too, is to say, look, if it’s truly your authentic vision, Your passion, your desire to be an engineer only for the rest of your career.

[00:34:53] Awesome. Let’s go make that the best experience possible. make the money you wanna make, learn the things you wanna learn, solve the problems you wanna solve. Like let’s go do that, but. Be careful. Let’s not assume that that’s true just because you stepped into our coaching on day one, thinking that’s what you wanted, or you feel triggered by, you know what Tony just said about the fact like, oh, being a CEO and founder and entrepreneur is, greater.

[00:35:18] It’s like, no, it’s not. You know, you feel that sense of defending that position. Oh yeah. Let’s just, 

[00:35:23] Tony Whatley: I still feel, Zach, I still feel it saying that. Yeah. 

[00:35:26] Zach White: It’s like, forget Tony, you, you’re not changing the world through technology to, you know, I’m so. Just, just that willingness to step back, be, be coachable for yourself, leave the ego at the door and say, huh, what would be, to your point, back to the project management example, what’s the lifestyle or the dream?

[00:35:44] The vision, the thing that lights me up the most. I’m gonna give myself room, mm-hmm. To step out of the core identity of engineer for a minute. And imagine something greater, what would that be? And if greater to you is another PhD and, more technical work as an engineer, awesome. But I think too many times we just, it’s so.

[00:36:06] Ingrained, it’s running in that subconscious. It’s like this is the blueprint of who I am that we’re rooted into, and we don’t give that bigger version of ourselves a chance to breathe. That’s part of why I love coaching engineers. Cause when they do, wow, it’s fun to watch people come to life and as long as, again, you’re, really being honest with yourself, I don’t think there’s a wrong answer, but let’s make sure we get.

[00:36:29] get to your answer. and a lot of people don’t take the time to do that. 

[00:36:32] Tony Whatley: yeah, when I was looking in the middle management ranks, I was on that executive path later in my career. it doesn’t take a brilliant person to look down the path, really down the cubicle line and see the little bit bigger offices as you get closer to the nicer part of the building and you kind of look at who’s in those offices and you go, okay, that guy’s 10 years ahead of me.

[00:36:52] This guy’s 20 years ahead of me and you know, 25. And I started seeing that, vice presidents you can usually hit, you know, when you’re 35, 40 years old, that’s kind of like early aggressive kind of years for mid-size, large size Fortune 500 companies. But then to become executive level, what I started noticing in the last 10 years of my career was that most of these guys were getting promoted the last five years of their career.

[00:37:18] So they would pay their news, air quotes for 40 something years, and then at age 60 they would get picked to be a vice president of some large division or some entity you know, in the company to really just pump up their pensions or their retirement package and they leave. So it’s like, dude, I gotta wait.

[00:37:36] 20 more years to make a, you know, base income of 400,000 plus all the perks. I’d probably be making a million a year plus maybe 2 million by then with inflation. But I gotta wait 20 years for that. It’s like I can go start a business and do that in two or three years. Like why would I wait 20 years for that?

[00:37:53] Hmm. 

[00:37:54] Zach White: We need to like have a little mic drop moment right there, Tony. If someone. Feels afraid. You know, one of my things, my company’s oasis of courage, we talk about courage a lot, I think fear blocks a lot of capable, ready now with great ideas who have all the skills you described today that clock could start tomorrow to having this successful business if they wanted to, but they’re afraid to do it.

[00:38:22] What would you say to that person if you really are just. The uncertainty, the unknown, the fear of this is holding you back from action. what’s Tony’s words of wisdom from your experience and haven’t 

[00:38:34] Tony Whatley: done this? Well, having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs for the book and hundreds of entrepreneurs for the show, I’ll tell you the number one fear that they have is not starting sooner.

[00:38:46] Overwhelmingly, probably 80% of entrepreneurs, Zach, probably, he’s nodding his head, so not starting sooner is the most popular heartburn that they have. And so if you know that that’s the number one thing, then that should help you make a decision a little bit quicker and you should feel fear.

[00:39:02] You should feel fear with anything that you’re starting to, you should feel fear if you’re. Never worked out before and you want to go start and becoming, you know, physically fit or you wanna start a company or at age 50. I started skateboarding again after 36 years away from it. So I, I had some fear around these things, but I.

[00:39:18] As soon as you can start realizing that fear is an indicator for potential growth and that there’s opportunities that are always on the other side of those fears and the challenges that you’re faced instead of the ones that you’re procrastinating and putting off. Usually that thing you’re putting off, the thing you’re procrastinating the most is because you understand internally that the gravity around that thing and the significance value of that thing is what’s keeping you from investing the skills or time or knowledge or love or attention into going in that direction.

[00:39:44] So, If you start realizing that fear and challenger actually indicators of where I’m going to grow in life, you start becoming more aggressive and taking those things head on and figuring out, Hey, if I can get through this challenge, then I can be focused on the smaller challenges on the backside, and that’s the way you should live.

[00:40:01] So you should feel fear, but also we get to choose our hard in our life. Realize that, Ooh, yeah. Entrepreneurship is hard. Employee set up is hard. They’re hard. We all get to choose as hard, so don’t. look at the guys that are on the social media complaining about their entrepreneurship. Like, oh, it’s so hard and we don’t have any friends and there’s critics and not gotta work 12 hour.

[00:40:22] there’s a lot of boohoo people, entrepreneurship people out there, just like there’s boohoo employee people out there. So don’t listen to either of those sides cuz they’re just drama queens trying to get attention or empathy or sympathy for probably bad decision. Let’s be real. Right? So when you think about choosing your hard.

[00:40:39] As an employee, I think it was actually harder because I had to ask or beg to have a 3% raise with inflation. I had to ask for permission to take time off to go on vacation. I had to ask if I had to come in late or leave early. I had to ask all these things, these permission, like these are your freedoms that you have to ask somebody.

[00:40:58] You know, and sometimes you get the title promotion without the raise because they just want to keep you around. Hey, we’ll just give you a manager at the end of whatever your current title is. Then maybe we’ll pacify you long enough to replace you with someone who costs less. So there’s all these games and political things, and I don’t have to suck up to those kind of things, and I can say whatever I want.

[00:41:16] I used to remember working for these large corporations and not being able to say what I really wanted to say on social media. So you’re being restricted because there’s potential backlash. So there’s all these restrictions that come from being an employee that largely disappear when you’re a business owner.

[00:41:31] So you get to choose your hard, right? I get to choose how much I decide I want to make based on the performance I put into the company versus waiting in line be between like, you know, all these inept. It’s kind of like weak managers that I’m waiting for them to retire, leave the company for me, able to take that seat from them.

[00:41:48] So there’s certain situations you can control and have a lot more freedom in the entrepreneurship space if you build the right business model. So you should be scared, right? You should be scared because also, think about the entrepreneur. We saw this in Covid in 2020 when there’s these mass companies just being laid off because of, lockdowns and stuff like that.

[00:42:06] Mandates. If you’re an employee, you had no choice in that. They just walked up to you and said, Hey, tomorrow’s your last day. And I’ve been laid off many times in the oil industry. There’s a lot of cycles in that industry, so there’s a lot of risk. And you think that it’s steady paycheck, and you think that that’s the thing to have.

[00:42:22] It’s not true because, so it’s not, dude, it’s realize that your employment is always one person, one person’s decision from existing. One person, you make your supervisor angry or they have a bad day, or someone up higher on the chain says, Hey, cut these heads off right here because we need to shave down 25% of our workforce.

[00:42:42] So keep the cheapest least experienced person possible in each seat to keep those seats warm. So when the industry comes back around, maybe we’ll start to rehire the veterans again, like. Once you get past age 40, you start to see ageism and cism dictate your career. Sure.

[00:42:56] And you start to realizing, I don’t really like this game. I liked it when I was younger and cheaper because I always had a job. Right. So it’s a game that people play. Entrepreneurship, covid. Yeah. They closed down your business. You go, well, I’ve got a merchant account. Understand processing systems. I got a pretty kickass team of people that are very creative.

[00:43:13] We can pivot, we can use the infrastructure, the equipment or the website stuff and we can just sell something completely legal that they allowed. So you had options to stay employed as an entrepreneur where as an employee, which is like, Hey, your last days today and I’ve been there and it’s tough. So choose your hard.

[00:43:29] The 

[00:43:30] Zach White: thing that comes right after choose your hard that I tell my clients too, is success at whichever hard you choose. Doesn’t mean no problems. Success, no. Just means better problems. You, you get to see Or different problems. Problems and different problems. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like, you know, would you rather have the problem of being unemployed and having no money or the problem of having a business that’s growing fast and you have to keep learning and figure out what to do with the money you have.

[00:43:55] You know, like they’re both problems, but which one? Would you rather be in? They’re rough. Tony, this is awesome man. I know you’ve kinda inspired some people who want to get off the proverbial couch of what they’re doing today and want to bring this to life cuz that fear of not starting sooner, maybe triggering in folks.

[00:44:15] So where can people find your book, your work, get connected with support if they want to get into this side hustle game. 

[00:44:23] Tony Whatley: Well, I would invite everybody that’s listening since your podcast Enthusiast. I have a podcast called 365 Driven. It’s on all the major platforms and we’re about to hit year five in a couple months here.

[00:44:34] So it’s been going pretty steady. Mostly entrepreneurship focused, but we get into health, wealth, mindset, and relationships. Cuz I think that all those are equally important. I don’t really care if you’re financially rich, but you’re fat. you gotta fix both of those kind of things, right?

[00:44:48] So, The other website everybody would go to to find all the information on social media and this stuff on my website’s, 365, so 365 

[00:44:59] Zach White: I can only say positive things about all of Tony’s content. So if you’re, uh, listening now, go check it out, get a copy of the book, and follow the podcast.

[00:45:09] You’re gonna get a ton of value from it. If you’re not sure about starting a business, just dabble. Get some information, see, you know, get into that place of openness. And I think what Tony has to say is tremendous, and I love that you. These four cornerstones of success that your podcast is built around.

[00:45:25] Cuz I say the same thing, there is no amount of success in your career that can make up for failure in your health, in your relationships, et cetera. So I love that, Tony, to lay on the plane here, or I should say to cross the finish line. Can’t use a aviation analogy or the, with a car. 

[00:45:41] Tony Whatley: We’re going racing analogies today.

[00:45:43] All 

[00:45:43] video1193967179: right. 

[00:45:43] Zach White: That’s right. We gotta, we gotta cross the finish light. You know, as an engineer, you know, as an entrepreneur, and now as a coach to top performing entrepreneurs and executives around the world. great questions lead if we want great answers, questions, lead, answers follow. So if someone wants a better answer in their life, they want that happiness, that success, they want to get to that next level.

[00:46:07] What would be the question that you would lead them with today? 

[00:46:12] Tony Whatley: The answer is always who, not how? Who has demonstrated excellence or results in a thing that you would like to achieve, who has already figured out all the stumbling blocks and the problems that you have or you’re facing, or the challenges?

[00:46:26] Realize that no problems are unique nowadays. Every problem or challenge that you face has likely been solved. Were shared by millions of other people in the past and precedent people. So start thinking about these kind of questions about who has that answer? How can I get that from them? Can I pay them?

[00:46:43] Can I hire them? Can I buy their course? Can I get some education? Can I get them as a mentor? Start surrounding yourself with who not. How so? Most people, when they’re kind of in that, that scarcity mindset, they’re always like, how am I gonna solve this? How am I gonna fix that? How can I afford that? Like, they’re always, how, how, how?

[00:47:00] Cause they’re so focused on themselves. And I get that. That’s lack of self-awareness. But successful people think about who has the answers, who has the resources, who has the networks? Yes, who has the things that I can go get from and by asking, by joining their things or going to their events and things like that.

[00:47:16] You’re listening to a podcast cuz you’re listening to who Not How as well. 

[00:47:22] Zach White: Engineers need that message. We love our house. Y equals F of X man. But yeah, who not how? Tony, thank you so much. I’m planning my trip to Houston. I gotta come see these vipers and get my picture with you and your beautiful bride and, uh, hang out.

[00:47:38] get the picture with the car. So, uh, excited about that and thanks so much for your generosity, your time today. Just wanna acknowledge you in the work You do appreciate so much you being here, Tony. Hey, 

[00:47:48] Tony Whatley: good to connect again and I’m always happy to help you out, brother.