The Happy Engineer Podcast

110: Start Anything You Believe Deeply with @CauseHacker Jim Carter iii | CEO & Founder | AI Specialist

In this episode, we tackle the hot topic of work that aligns with your purpose, versus a job that only pays your bills, with my good friend Jim Carter III.

If you have ever questioned your career path and wondered if the mission and meaning behind your company is truly aligned with your own values, then don’t miss this conversation.

Jim is a programmer turned passionate founder, public speaker, Fortune 15 consultant & AI strategist. With the experience of growing multiple 7 figure businesses in tech & content, he specializes in advising brands, experts & Social Impact organizations on maximizing growth using content & technology.

His passion for purpose has him known as the @CauseHacker.

Focusing on AI, tech expertise & business growth, Jim mentors scaling entrepreneurs through his Fast Foundations Mastermind & empowers entrepreneurs to harness the power of Artificial Intelligence in their daily lives & businesses.

Proud #girldad, lover of coffee, and dad joke aficionado, Jim will guide, challenge & unblock the biggest challenges you have in a simple & actionable form.

So press play and let’s chat…it’s time to start living ON purpose!

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

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The Happy Engineer Podcast



[00:01:15] Childhood computer purchase sparks lifelong passion.

[00:05:56] Parents teach daughters tech for unfair advantage.

[00:08:52] Kids have iPads and use family calendar.

[00:11:03] Using AI tools empowered my child’s creativity.

[00:15:01] From coding to finding passion with purpose.

[00:23:30] Fresh start and new perspective on coding.

[00:30:10] Show up differently, celebrate yourself, change.

[00:33:39] Fixing website leads to charity trip opportunity.

[00:38:24] Purpose drives change. Find yours.

[00:42:02] “Be like Jim – find purposeful impact”





Previous Episode 109: You’re Not Alone – Powerful Community Leads to Healing and Growth with Bekah Weigel | Founder of




Hey there, it’s happy engineer Zach! Let’s get straight to it. 

Shifting from work that’s just about a paycheck to work aligned with your purpose can be life-changing. 

I get it, though. Engineering leaders often feel guilty or worry that purposeful work won’t pay enough or support their families. It’s not that simple, and I understand.

Before we wrap up, let me share a story about my friend Mauricio. 

He was a software engineering manager, feeling lost and unhappy in his personal and professional life. But when he connected with his purpose through our Lifestyle Engineering Blueprint program, everything changed. 

His marriage improved, his career path became clear, and he gained confidence.

The remarkable thing is, Mauricio didn’t have to change jobs or anything external. The transformation came from within. And that’s where it all starts. If you don’t make internal changes, you’ll bring the same problems to your next job once the honeymoon phase ends.

Here’s an exercise for you: Grab a piece of paper and write down 10 purpose-driven, meaningful things about your current job. For example, the value your product brings to customers or the jobs your company creates. It’s not about monumental causes, but about finding fulfillment and connection in your work.

If you eventually want to pursue a cause you deeply care about, great.

 If not, that’s okay too. What matters is feeling connected to your work in your heart, soul, and mind. 

If this seems challenging or nonsensical, give it a try. 

I’ve helped many engineering leaders through this process, and I’d love to help you too. Let’s chat about your next steps.

But above all, focus on purpose-driven work that you can love. 

Write those 10 things down and share them with me at [email protected].

I’m always excited to connect and support you in achieving your career and life dreams. So go out there, embrace discomfort, cultivate courage, and let’s make it happen.



Programmer for over two decades, coder, speaker, scalability & growth nut, startup junkie, Eagle Scout, a leader at heart & father of two. 👋

Jim Carter is a passionate Technology Coach with over 25 years of experience, specializing in advising Social Impact organizations, brands, and experts on maximizing growth using content and technology. He co-leads a Mastermind program that hosts both in-person and virtual events to teach entrepreneurs essential business skills and create a lasting impact. And with a focus on Al, tech expertise, and mentorship, Jim empowers entrepreneurs to harness the power of Artificial Intelligence in their daily lives and businesses.



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

[00:00:00] Zach White: Jim. What’s up man? Welcome to the Happy Engineer Podcast.

[00:00:04] Jim Carter III: Thanks for having me, man.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:04] Zach White: This is fun. So after the last eight weeks of spending time with you every week I can now say I have incredible, excitement and anticipation of where your life, your business, and everything you’re doing is going.

[00:00:18] But before we get to that, we gotta back up, to how we first connected for just a moment. And ironically, another person from LA. Tony Watley, who we both just hung out with his episode just dropped today as we’re recording this. And so we’re in la with Louis Howes at his book release and having a great time.

[00:00:38] And I meet this guy, Jim Carter, who’s happens to be a lifetime programmer and coder, who’s now doing some amazing stuff in ai, et cetera. But take us back really quick to the early days of Jim. What was the first coding language you learned? Let’s back it all the way up to your engineering days.

[00:00:57] First coding language you learned that 

[00:01:00] Jim Carter III: would’ve been DOS or possibly even GW Basic, just because at the time, God, what? What did I have? I think it was an Apple two E. It was one of our first family computers. No, 

[00:01:13] Zach White: I had a two ci, that was my first computer 

[00:01:15] Jim Carter III: all Oh, you beat me. Yeah. But we were close, super, super close.

[00:01:18] It was absolutely an arms race at the time for whoever could convince their parents to actually go buy the thing fast enough. That’s, you know, and I, I grew up in a very, very humble middle class, uh, not even gonna say upper or lower middle class, but middle class, you know, in Los Angeles area. Family, only child.

[00:01:38] my parents saw the opportunity there for what technology could be. So they saved and saved and saved and then all, wow. I still remember going to, I think it was Sears. Yeah, I think it was Sears with my dad and my mom and buying it big old box, you know, walking out with it, smile on my dad’s face, has no idea what we’re gonna do with this thing.

[00:01:55] Right. And, I remember that day, I think that was probably like the first pivotal moment. Yes. Poor memory, that now is, is very on brand, very much part of my story. But at the time, I don’t know, you could probably contextualize it to like a big moment in your life now where it’s you’ve got one of these really massive pivotal changes mm-hmm.

[00:02:18] In the paradigm that you’re part of. Whether it’s, you buy your first car, you buy your first house. Like for us it was that first personal computer I was very young. but at the time, I guess I just saw this, this innate desire to, to create from it, to build from it. I didn’t know what I was gonna do.

[00:02:35] So yes, my dad brought it home. He bought a DOS for Dummy’s book. He couldn’t figure it out. He threw it on the table, got frustrated, and he was just do you wanna read this? You know, everybody called called me Jimmy. I’m Jimmy Toll, my family and friends. He was like, Jimmy, do you want to just try this?

[00:02:50] And I was like, sure. So I read it. Picked it up, started coding. It just, it came natural to me. What a story. And I taught my dad and the basics of that along the way. And we used that for, my Boy Scout troop. I’m an Eagle Scout and the Boy Scouts of America, so we started creating little programs. I started making little games.

[00:03:07] It was a lot of fun. And then I grew into the other languages, but that was probably where it 

[00:03:10] Zach White: all started. That’s wild. I’m curious really quick, what do you think got your parents. Into that belief that this was worthy of saving up for and doing like, like for me, I had an Apple two CI in my bedroom as a kid before any of my friends had computers because my dad was a electrical engineer working with computers and you know, very on the, the bleeding edge of that when I was young.

[00:03:32] And so he was bringing home technology just because it was part of his life. What was that trigger point for your family? 

[00:03:39] Jim Carter III: they did it for me in scouting because my dad was a scout master and, and my mom supported, right. So when I was in Cub Scouts, she was a then leader, if you will. Right.

[00:03:48] So Cool. Yeah. All the scouting lingo for any engineers here who, uh, who were scouts as well. But my, my dad loved doing different things. Like he, he wasn’t a traditional creative, he wasn’t a visionary in a sense, but he loved tinkering. He loved figuring things out. he was very, Tactile in his approach.

[00:04:08] He’s very methodical. So when he was trying to think of things that he could do, one to spend more time with me, cause I was in the troupe, but two, to, I mean, let’s be honest, like I’m, I’m a dad now too, so there’s always that like, okay, how do I level up these other, you know, dads in the troupe and how do I do something different?

[00:04:24] He saw that as, as an advantage. He’s like, well, if I, that’s cool. If I can lean into this, then there might be some advantage for my son, for the troop, for the greater good of everything he was already hand making. Posters and banners and stuff like that. So he’s like, well, if, what if we printed it right?

[00:04:41] Like this is like such a non-issue day. Mm-hmm. It’s like if you need something mm-hmm. You either can print it at home, you can take it to a local UPS store or something and you can get whatever you need done for pennies. Right. At the time it was. For us, it was apple tuey dot matrix printer, big old ribbon, you know, box of ribbon paper.

[00:04:58] And I, I have fond horrible memories of trying to fall asleep hearing dang right. 

[00:05:05] Zach White: You know, all the noise. I got the sound right of my head. 

[00:05:07] Jim Carter III: It just that the modem dialing up all that stuff. It’s all classic, but it, it, I dunno what conditions you. 

[00:05:14] Zach White: That’s really funny. Well, I think it’s interesting cause that you know today, and we’ll probably get to this later in our conversation in more depth, but parents like yourself are facing a similar set of questions around.

[00:05:25] What do I bring my kids into with the revolution of technology and AI and things happening right now? And do I encourage and push them into these new things and help them get an edge? Or do I kind of hold back and try to keep them in? What’s been the traditional way of things prior to this? Maybe there’s fear for some people.

[00:05:46] Maybe there’s excitement for others, but I’m curious really quick, as a dad yourself, how do you view what you experienced as a kid? How does that inform how you, you view it today as a dad? 

[00:05:56] Jim Carter III: Yeah, it absolutely informs it, and I think it’s a guiding light, right? Because I can 100% say that I would not be in this position, in technology.

[00:06:08] I just, I wouldn’t have the desire because it, it didn’t get instilled in me early enough and not acknowledged, what’s the word I’m looking for? It wouldn’t have been, it wouldn’t have been challenged. It wouldn’t have been celebrated. The way that my parents were like, well, let’s just see if, if it adds value, to our family, to our life.

[00:06:26] And I see that opportunity for my daughters, right? I have a 12 year old and an 11 year old daughter, and I’m excited to give them the unfair advantage every chance I can get. So they learned how to search Google as soon as they could type. And now on the weekends and evenings, I show them how to use AI tools.

[00:06:49] We’re sitting down and I’m saying don’t stop searching Google for what you need, but I’m gonna show you how you can have a conversation with Chad g p t or how you can create something all brand new out of your imagination with Mid Journey or a different type of tool because there is no scenario in their future where they won’t be using these.

[00:07:09] Yes, none. Especially with a technology focused family and a guy like their dad. but I think, I think it’s a bigger picture question, which is okay, but at what extent do they turn to that first and not learn the fundamentals? I, I don’t think that helps anybody. You can’t pay somebody to swim for you.

[00:07:26] You, you still have to learn how to swim yourself. Mm-hmm. You can pay somebody to rescue you. But typically that happens after the fact. Yeah, exactly. In that case, right? You’re out the money and somebody else is, is risking their neck for you. So I still want my kids to understand the fundamentals. I still want them to understand the, the principles of research and putting it together and being creative.

[00:07:45] I don’t want a robot to be creative for my kids. I want them to be the creative director of whatever they want their life to be. But I don’t want them to not have 

[00:07:55] Zach White: the tools. I love that. I’ll also back up to something you said that I think is really important about. What your dad and your parents brought into the home with the idea of how could this add value to the way we wanna live and to give my kids an unfair advantage and this value add lens.

[00:08:15] And what I’ve seen, my sisters who have big, big families and looking at technology and they see some role modeling of technology being used in a way that’s. More of a distraction than a value add. You know, just put the iPad in front of the kid and just, you know, it keeps them busy all the time and they’re more afraid to.

[00:08:34] Expose their kids to technology because they see that side. And I think that while asking a different question, how does this bring value into the home? And how can we give our next generation these, kids who we love so dearly and unfair advantage in the world that they are stepping into one way or the other.

[00:08:50] That’s a really powerful 

[00:08:51] Jim Carter III: lens. So, well, I’ve got a great example on that one. If, if this is helpful, is please, so for example, my, my kids are 11 and 12. they both have iPads. they’ve had tablets for, for a few years now. My, my 12 year old finally has a phone, but, that’s a whole other conversation for parents and, we’ll get there.

[00:09:07] We have reasons for that. one thing that we did was I may, we, we have a family Google calendar that used to just be between Valerie, my, my wife and I, and I recently installed that calendar on both of their devices. Because I want to empower them with knowing what’s coming up. Like we’re a very calendar driven family, but they’ve now found efficiency in their lives.

[00:09:28] cuz they don’t have to ask us, Hey, what are we doing this weekend? Or, you know, can I go play with this friend or whatever, if they’ve got a volleyball game, if we’ve got practices, if, if grandma’s coming over, you know, whatever it is. They at least are aware of it and they’ve started thinking about how to be better in our family kind of life cycle and what we do because they just have the awareness for it.

[00:09:49] It’s one example. The other one that comes to mind is when I taught my 11 year old prompt engineering for chat, G P T. I sat her down and we, gimme some examples. What are you thinking about? They’re both in volleyball, right? So, and my wife made the decision, you’ve met Val now, that she wants to coach this next season, so send help, but we’re gonna be fine.

[00:10:10] And, and my daughter, as I was showing her, I was showing her like how we can use chat c b T to come up with a personalized volleyball practice schedule. And, okay. She like opened her eyes and she’s like, Yeah, I can’t use Google for that. Like it, it clicked for her, you know, within minutes. That was really cool.

[00:10:29] It was a very proud dad moment. Hmm. But the reason I give that example is she went in the house and she started thinking about it and she was talking about, she ran back out here. Super excited. I, I have a, I have a garage office space where I’m recordings when I say in here, out here, just between room to room.

[00:10:44] So she ran back out. She’s like, dad, I just had a great idea. Mommy’s gonna be coaching my volleyball team. And now the same way you taught me how we can have a personalized schedule. She can make personalized schedules for the whole team, and then she knows exactly what to do for who and all that. I was like, that’s exactly right, baby, come on over.

[00:11:03] Perfect. And I’ll show you how we can do it. And I said, I want you to lead the conversation. How do you think if you were the coach, how would you set it up? I was like, well make up names, so gimme a name. She says, Sally. Okay. What is Sally good at? What is she bad at? 

[00:11:16] Like all these things. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And I showed her ways. Okay, well if you ask it that this way, you’ll get this kind of answer. So to the same point, ask a stronger question. You get a better answer. Yes. It’s just a different way of doing it. Is that gonna take over her creativity?

[00:11:31] No. I wanted it to empower it. And that was a very cool moment. And that was the first time that she ever experienced chat G P t, and working with an AI tool. It had already opened her up. So that’s the kind of empowerment Yes. That I want my kids to have. And all it takes is just you being open to trying it and seeing what they come up with.

[00:11:52] But man, I love seeing the creativity come outta my kids, showing ’em different tech tools. But now more than ever, 

[00:11:57] Zach White: these AI tools so fun. And for me, it inspires my own engagement with the tools as well. I know we’re talking about 11 and 12 year olds, but in some ways we’re all 11 year olds when it comes to learning these new tools.

[00:12:11] But let me back up then and. Here we’ve got off on our two CI train and ended up on AI already. We gotta go back, bring it back. Back. So tell me about the time of your programming days and the one thing in particular that I admire and I know has been a big factor in creating who you are now is the fact that you didn’t have.

[00:12:32] the maybe traditional just W2 career path that a lot of engineering leaders experience. If, if I look at your, your LinkedIn profile, the word founder, co-founder, or you know, technical co-founder, CTO is on there like 7, 8, 9, 10 times. Right? It’s a really unique background. So just tell us a little bit about how did writing code and your love of technology lead into all of the work you did in founding and co-founding companies and that 

[00:12:59] Jim Carter III: whole journey?

[00:13:00] I think I bring up this term of leaning in a lot just because I think that’s, that’s my mindset is I don’t need to be an expert in everything. I never will be. I, I’m not perfect. I’ve opened and closed more businesses than I can count, and most of them failed. And I’m really proud of that because you win or learn, you don’t necessarily win or lose.

[00:13:19] Right. And yeah, there’s nothing. Big and massively. Like, that’s not like a Tony Robbins quote. It’s just the way that I think you have to show up, especially as an engineer, because a function doesn’t work correctly only until you get it to work correctly. Like it’s, it’s all building blocks, you know, if we’re really talking about that.

[00:13:38] So for me, man, when I got outta high school, probably my, my last year of high school, so late nineties. I just have this desire to again, leaning in to just trying something new. So at the time I was DJing and I remember I was going to a couple different, I dunno if I told you that I used, I didn’t 

[00:13:58] Zach White: hear this part.

[00:13:58] I’m excited 

[00:13:59] Jim Carter III: and I, I used that as my opportunity cause I was already buying, music and DJ equipment and stuff like that. And I was like, you know what, all of these music, Not companies, but these different businesses, like they don’t have websites yet, or if they do, they suck. And I just, I saw this opportunity, so I ended up one of my very first sales as a side hustle of just being a total independent contractor.

[00:14:21] No business, no business, even having a business. But still, I did it probably late nineties. I sold one of these record stores that also had equipment rentals, building an e-commerce site. So at the time it was, God, what was that? It was classic as p I didn’t even know. Yeah, that would’ve been late nineties.

[00:14:38] And I remember, I still, again, core memory at first big sale, I think I charged dude like a thousand bucks. I was just like odd top of the world, right? That’s not 

[00:14:47] Zach White: bad. For late nineties sidewalks for Hustle nineties, 

[00:14:50] Jim Carter III: you have no clout, no business even selling anything. 

[00:14:54] And I’ll never forget, I, I sold him on building an e-commerce shopping cart. So people could buy stuff from his, his site. Yes. Hung up the phone, went on Google how to build me on the shopping cart. Mm-hmm. You know, in glass of ksb. And I found a script that I set up a server and I installed it and I’m like, great, I got this, you know.

[00:15:15] And I, I think that’s just the mindset most engineers kind of employ, 

[00:15:18] Zach White: Yeah. So at the end of that whole flow. I realized, okay, I, I’ve, I’ve got something here, like I can really get into this. But it was, it was a combination of pushing the limits of what I was capable of.

[00:15:29] Jim Carter III: Yeah. Trying something new. Yeah. And enjoying what I was doing along the way. I, I think that, that was like the trifecta for me. So I had a lot of fun doing that. I set up a little, you know, side entity, started building websites. I, I had no, no big responsibilities at the time, in the late nineties, so it was fun.

[00:15:47] My overhead was low and I. I enjoyed trying things and really just learning new technology and mm-hmm. You know, kind of going from that gym of all trades to just like, okay, I found my passion, which is building backend systems. I, I really adopted PHP at that point. I got really into the mechanics of it. I started working with backend systems, databases, APIs.

[00:16:09] Okay. Yep. Building big, big classes to do things. Got into microservices and that was just my, my, my very niche focus. But I loved being a founder. I just loved that, loved that hustle, that challenge of trying something brand new, bringing an idea to life and fast forward and kind of zoom around on the res proverbial resume, if you will.

[00:16:28] Like I tried a lot of different companies. I did some of my own partnerships, all that stuff. And I guess what really that led to is that between experimenting in high school, starting my own business, making some money, and then. Getting married, having kids going down that path, floating between W2 and a 10 99 and, pick an IRS form and some kind of tax classification.

[00:16:55] And then running my own businesses, having LLCs, you name it. I, I strayed away from the things that I loved, which was kind of finding purpose in it and doing things for joy. I was doing it for the money and it didn’t really dawn on me until my kids got to be, I don’t know, 3, 4, 5, something like that. I had then moved my family up to San Francisco and I had, we bought a home in Oakland.

[00:17:17] Um, I was going into the city. I was building startups. I was living that life. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, that’s Mecca for, for an engineer is for sure taking the, taking the bar in and, you know, walking on Market Street and, um, all, you know, WeWork life, everything. I had a corner office in my own, like WeWork corner and, 

[00:17:37] What I just found was, yeah, I was getting paid well and it was different and challenging as part of the startup scene, but I really lost that passion for what I was doing. So I found this opportunity to say, okay, I’ve been a growth hacker now for a long time, and I’m coder still and all this, and I feel like I’m kind of at that peak, but I’m, I’m just not sure.

[00:17:58] And I’ll never forget, I was in Bart, I was in one of stations. And I saw this sign, and I wish I took a picture of it now because it was such a pivotal moment for me, but it said, this is the land of startups, so start something. And it was, it was that simple. It was just like that quote and it was probably advertising Cisco or you know, just some, something.

[00:18:20] I don’t know. It was, it was some good old fashioned startup lingo just to get you inspired when you’re getting off bar. And it did. It really inspired me and. That got me thinking a lot. And at the time, a friend of mine who had helped his startup then get acquired by Yahoo and stuff like that, so he was really close.

[00:18:38] He connected me with a book that a friend had written. His name was Adam Braun, and he founded Pencils of Promise, which is a, a charity out of New York City, and they provide education to children around the world, primarily in Ghana, Laos, and Guatemala. And he wrote this book about how he, with, $25 in starting a checking account started an organization and then it now turned into building hundreds of schools and supporting tens of thousands of kids and all this stuff.

[00:19:10] And this is a scooter bronzes, brother Scooter who owns Sure. SB projects that, you know, manages Ariana Grande and all these massive names. And at the end of the day, it was a great story about how he didn’t use. A lot of his celebrity influence or anything to start, it helped him later, but he took a different path.

[00:19:32] He was set to go down this financial path and like follow all this stuff and he was just like, no, he’s like, my heart’s in this. and it really resonated with, so it was like this confluence of, I’m in startup land, I can do anything that I want. I’ve got this talent, I’ve got the ability, and now I’ve kind of found this, this refocusing on my passion like I’m an Eagle Scout in the scouting.

[00:19:55] Program, and I spent my entire childhood in service, you know, God, country, community, yes. Everything. And I, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. Like that night I just, I, I was like lying wide awake in bed, almost in tears because I was just like, okay, I don’t know what this means yet, but I know I can’t look back.

[00:20:15] And from that point forward, I was like, I just need to show up the way that I want. Be willing to. Be a student of life again, figure it out along the way. And it’s not about the money anymore, it’s about some kind of a purpose. And I just started showing up differently. And it’s the crazy thing. You put that energy out into the world and it reflects right back to you.

[00:20:37] I kid you not, Zack. Two weeks later I ran into a guy on Market Street that I happened to meet at a co-working space, couple years prior. And he told me that he was getting into this new startup and he was gonna do this thing and. Everything checked all the boxes for me. Everything about it, it was the perfect opportunity to join as a co-founder, and I gave up everything I was doing.

[00:20:59] I took the risk and that was like the first big move of me stepping into that new life. And I’ve never looked back has everything gone perfect? Of course not. Have I closed most all those businesses since? Yes, it did. I just recently redo what I’m doing now. Absolutely. But I can’t think about going back any other way.

[00:21:18] And even if I ever do go back to a W2 job. I know that I’ve got the principles and the values and that’s going to be my baseline. 

[00:21:26] Zach White: Thank you for sharing. Of course. This is awesome. Yeah, and there’s a couple things I wanna echo take it further if you will. One is the that catalyst moment, and maybe you can even go back there in your mind’s eye for as you see that sign.

[00:21:41] And I remember my catalyst moment where purpose overtook the path that I was on. You know, and for me, I was building my career. I was in a W2 job and really finding a lot of success after having gone through burnout and depression and divorce. And for those who haven’t heard my story, you know, I wanted to be successful.

[00:22:02] Did it all wrong, totally crashed and burned, and then built my career very successfully after that and was on that steep upward trend. Jim, when it. Hit me over a weekend of I was taking what I call a time of solitude and silence. I do fasting, you know, water. Only three days go out by myself and just take the time to clear and cleanse my mind and my body.

[00:22:26] And I was doing that sort of spring of 2019 and all of my career trajectory was, up and to the right. It was going great, but there was a very clear. Calling in my life that hit me that weekend, I call it, it was a download. God just spoke to me. He was like, you are not called to be an engineer anymore.

[00:22:48] It’s like the coaching side. Now is the time. This is what I want you to do. And everything changed from that point and started oasis of courage. But it was when purpose, like the idea of helping these other leaders with what I had gone through overtook the priority of making more money or being somebody in my career and willing to fail at whatever, because I’d rather experience rejection than regret.

[00:23:13] That was a huge moment for me. And so can you take us back to that experience for you in that station, you see the sign. What was that like? Can you just describe the experience of having that awareness or what shifted or what do you remember about that moment? 

[00:23:30] Jim Carter III: Yeah. For me it was, I’m trying to think of the words to, to describe it, but I feel like it’s a combination of, of humility and the willingness to not start over, but just some kind of a fresh start with a different perspective.

[00:23:46] Mm-hmm. A way of stepping into a different level of me that I. I, I hadn’t decided yet if I needed that for my own ego or if I was trying to prove it to someone or myself, but I just knew that the current path wasn’t sustainable. Yeah. you know, I started down a computer science path and I had done a lot myself, but I’ll be really, I, I never finished the computer science degree.

[00:24:08] because I freaking sold a shopping cart, you know, when I was in high school. Yeah. Didn’t have to. I figured it out right now. Was that the best move? Questionably, maybe, maybe not. there was a point where, cause again, I was in the Bay Area, Uber was up and coming, you know, at the time I ended up, I was working next to a few engineers at Rocket Space.

[00:24:26] Again, for any, I know this is engineers, so if I talk about all the different, like startups. Yeah, no, 

[00:24:32] Zach White: you can geek out for sure. People are gonna know. I know, I know. 

[00:24:35] Jim Carter III: These guys and girls get it. And, uh, I remember working next to them and I went to a, went to a meetup once and it was hosted by the growth team at Uber.

[00:24:44] And I was, I, this was before I had jumped into that one startup and I was, I was fascinated by it. So I connected with the guy who was leading it and he was like, Hey, we’re always hiring. So I went ahead and applied. Cause I was like, this is cool. It could be a fun new way of, thinking. And at the time it was, we hate these code reviews, um, or like, you know, code challenge kind of thing.

[00:25:05] And, you know, I, I started to go through that and I got through some of the phases and stuff and. I remember at the time he had asked me a seemingly simple question, but I was incapable of explaining it at a very low level. and again, in code world low level is like, okay, well explain the principle behind the computer science logic that runs it.

[00:25:25] And I was just like, dude, I, I got nothing. Like I don’t, I, I don’t, I don’t know what that is. I’ve never written one. Um, sorry, I just, don’t know. now today in 2023, this may be irrelevant, but at the time it was very relevant. And it was really important to me. And he just said, you know, we use a lot of these low level technologies at our growth team because we start with these foundations and we build from it.

[00:25:48] Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And he was just like, you’re a great dude. You got good stuff going on. He’s like, but if you just, regardless of degree, he’s like, if you just don’t know these core concepts, he’s like you, you just won’t cut it on the team. And at the time I was just like, Part of me was like, oh man, this guy just called me out.

[00:26:05] But it was also a very big wake up call, which is, yeah, I think that was that catalyst moment because I realized, man, I’ve gotten this far in life and I’m, I’m making good money and I’m proud of what I’m doing and I’ve loved all these startups and everything. Yeah. But I wonder if I should have continued, I wonder if I should have gotten the full degree went further.

[00:26:26] Mm-hmm. really gotten into it and those kind of a thing. And then I reflected and I was like, well, I’m married. I got two kids. I need to be employed or I need my own business. And I was just like, do I want to go back and cover all that stuff and feel like I’m catching up, or do I want to think differently and do I want to lean into something else?

[00:26:46] Mm-hmm. And regardless of what the right or wrong choice was, I chose the something else. And that I think was the moment where I told myself I need to disconnect from being a coder. And I need to take what I know and I need to take my God-given talents and my gifts and turn it into something better.

[00:27:03] And I’ve had so much fun stepping into that and hiring way smarter engineers than me and pulling in incredible developers and product people to my teams and things like that. And the first time somebody wrote code in a language that I had nothing, no idea what was going on, and I couldn’t make sense of it.

[00:27:25] At first, I was like, oh my God, this is terrifying. Like I don’t know how to audit it or whatever. And I was like, wait, I don’t need to, I just need to trust the people that are in my corner. Hmm. And that principle has helped guide me. Really good. And that opened me up to now thinking about that in a bigger way is more about just trusting the people that are in your corner, that you’re working with the right individuals, but it doesn’t have to be you.

[00:27:46] Mm-hmm. And it can be you, I think is the, is the right answer. You could be a lifetime coder, student of life, and you’re just always on top of it. But for me, I knew that wasn’t for me. That was that that big moment. And sometimes I miss it, but I realize it was just a chapter in my life and I’m longer the next book.

[00:28:05] Zach White: I know so many engineering leaders can relate to just hitting these points where you have to decide. What will I do? Am I gonna go back and get another degree? Am I gonna lean into something new? And I literally just got off the phone with a really amazing engineer. a senior manager level, but I basically described back to him in our coaching session, you know, just doing an onboarding session and said, look, everything that you’ve told me, Exists in this really narrow band around neutral in your life.

[00:28:35] There’s nothing that’s broken or you’re burned out or things that are really bad. There’s no desperation, but there’s nothing that you told me that you want or that you’re leaning into or that you’re aspiring to become. There’s no inspiration either. Your whole life exists around this narrow band around boredom.

[00:28:53] And it’s comfortable. It’s just what’s working. And you know, he is got kids that aren’t outta college yet and he wants to keep the safe, secure path and don’t change anything until, and he said what? Until what? Because today it’s until your kids get outta college.

[00:29:07] But I actually met this gentleman, uh, almost two years ago, and then it was until my last kid goes into college. And, you know, we just keep kicking that can down the road. So to hear your story, it’s, uh, to me it’s really inspirational to just say, yeah, these moments will come where you, you feel that?

[00:29:23] Impulse, that humility of like, huh, is this a trajectory change moment for me? And to have the courage to do it. I just really appreciate you sharing you, you’ve done it over and over again to get to where you’re at today. so you go from growth hacker coder and expert in, in helping companies to scale and grow and, taking on that growth hacking mindset to the cause hacker, this purpose-driven.

[00:29:48] It’s bigger than pick the business metric. It has a meaning to it. So what are the causes today that you’re most excited about? What are the things when you started going in this new direction of letting cause be the primary aim, where did that take you? What are you excited about? Just kind of catch us up to Jen today.

[00:30:10] Jim Carter III: Yeah, the, the cost hacker is a fun one. I decided that right around the same time I saw that banner and I was like, okay, I need a new. I need a new way of showing up, right? It didn’t mean that I had immediately was posting on Instagram, all the language at time. I still shared family photos on Instagram probably in those years, but it, it evolved into a mantra and sort of the way that I like to show up, right?

[00:30:32] for those of you that have heard my name now on here, I’m Jim Carter, if that sounds familiar. Closer to one of our past presidents, he kind of takes the credit when you search for my name, so I’m not so there. It’s, um, but I just knew that I needed to show up different, I needed to do it in a way that reflected for me.

[00:30:50] And now I’m known by that cause I’ve put the years into asking to be known by it. and it’s fun and it’s new and it’s fresh and that’s guided me. here’s the way I look at it. If you wear a bright yellow hat everywhere you go, you have to expect that somebody at that point, during that day is gonna ask you about your hat, right?

[00:31:09] If you’re wearing a bright neon coat real, you know, any, anything like that, like if you’re showing up somehow that is different, that’s pushing it. You have to be willing to accept when somebody reflects that back to you. But if you walk around. In a black hat, in a gray shirt and brown and black sweats, you’re gonna blend in and you can’t expect to be treated as different or exceptional.

[00:31:36] And for some people, that’s what they want and that’s fine. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I don’t see those people changing the world, and I don’t need to change the world. I just wanna leave the world in a better place than I found it. And when I found that in myself that I don’t have to be the Tony Robbins, I don’t have to be that pillar human, that people.

[00:31:53] Admire and wanna follow. I still can make a difference. Yes, in my own world, whether it’s just for my family or for it’s my community, or for engineering in general, people who have seen me do it before them. So when I finally accepted that, and that took a lot of work, a lot of work, and I didn’t even focus on doing any self work, inner work until probably 2019, once I finally realized that.

[00:32:21] I actually am proud of everything that I’ve accomplished and it was no longer about ego. It was about no, if I’m not proud about it, then except for my mom, who else is gonna be proud of me for it? Right? Sure. You, you have to stand in what you’re proud of. Because nobody’s going to celebrate you unless you celebrate yourself.

[00:32:39] And there’s a way to do it by removing your ego from it. Once I found that ability that unlocked me, and at the time when I talked about Pencils of Promise, that organization, this was still all very new to me and, and here’s a really great example of how that changed the way that I showed up. when I got that book recommendation from my friend and I read it, and I just, I just full body, felt the words on those pages, and I, it, it dawned on me, I’m like, I can take everything that I know in technology and I can give it to nonprofits because non-profits don’t hire technical people like us because we’re the most expensive and we’re the last thing on their mind.

[00:33:19] They need to focus on bringing in gifts and donations, not optimizing in systems. And I was like, maybe I can be like the technical coach for nonprofits. That didn’t work. Right. But it was worthy experiment, because why, why would they pay a non doer, you know, at a nonprofit? But I, I digress, right? This is all 

[00:33:36] Zach White: about experiments.

[00:33:37] Hey, the learning. Yeah, exactly. 

[00:33:39] Jim Carter III: But I can leave one thing with everybody who’s listening and find yourself in the story at the time. I knew everything there was to know about WordPress. I was coder and PHP built all these sites. I focused on speed, security, stability, all those things.

[00:33:54] I go to their website, it’s slow, it’s broken. The SSL certificate is wrecked. There’s PHP code output everywhere, and I’m just like, what a horrible situation This founder writes this book, pours his heart out on these pages. It’s the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

[00:34:15] All these people across the world are probably reading this book, going to the website, and they, they want to give, they wanna learn more. And the website’s broken. Like, how would that make you feel? it hit me and I was just like, I texted my buddy and I’m like, dude, can you connect me with the founder?

[00:34:30] Like, yeah, I just wanna fix his website. Like this will take me. Two hours. Like, I don’t, can I just, can I please just fix it? It’d be my give back for just reading a book that had a positive effect in my life. And he was like, absolutely. So he, texted the guy, he’s like, yes, let me connect him with my team.

[00:34:47] And they just welcome me with open arms. And I was like, you guys, I don’t want anything for this. I just, I love the book. I kind of know what you do. Like most of the pages don’t work. I’m gonna learn about it along the way. Like I’m just gonna fix you up in a matter of days. I got access to it. Lightning, fast, secure again, all that, you know, it’s just simple stuff.

[00:35:05] Yeah. Simple. To me, again, when whoever’s listening, think 

[00:35:08] Zach White: about it, world altering to them, world 

[00:35:11] Jim Carter III: pivoting, changing everything, and they, we got on like a, a Google Hangout or a Zoom or something. They’re just like, oh my God. Like, ow. if we were to have found you, like how much would it have cost?

[00:35:23] Like they didn’t even ask those questions, but that’s what they were just like stuck in. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And it was that moment of like the simplest thing for me to do made such a world of difference for them. But because it’s a nonprofit organization, it’s not about them. It’s about the cause. And like all of that just came together for me.

[00:35:41] Yeah. So I stayed in contact with them. I helped them out. They ended up inviting me to go to Guatemala, into the fields a couple years later because I stayed really close to them. Never sent ’em an invoice for a dollar. I was just like, you know, I’m getting paid well right now. I got time. This is fun. It’s new to me, and have you ever been on a charity trip?

[00:36:01] Some, something like that. Totally. Okay. So when I say this to you and anybody who’s listening, if you have been, I know that you can agree with me, which is you come back with your body chemistry changed. Mm-hmm. there’s no looking at life before that to after that. The same, like, it’s just a different way of showing up.

[00:36:19] And I was there with. Hedge fund owners and multimillionaires and people who, you know, their fourth house is probably 10 times the size of mine. And, and you just, you feel this big, you know, you’re just, you, you feel so tiny. I’m like, man, yeah. But I got like 10 grand in my name right now. Like, how can I show up next to these people?

[00:36:40] And I remember sitting in the back of the bus, we were all like playing music, singing, you know, back random bus in the middle of Guatemala. And I, I just felt so small and I was sitting next to one of the, the people at the charity who had become a friend, and I just, I broke down and I was like, what?

[00:36:55] I don’t belong here. I, I think those are the words that came out. Mm-hmm. And I’ll never forget what she said. She said, no. She’s like, out of everybody here, you’re the person that belongs here the most. Because if it’s not for someone like you, we don’t even have a way of cashing their checks. We don’t have a way of.

[00:37:15] Of, of receiving all of the generosity that these people have the abundance to be able to give. And she said it in the most genuine way. It had nothing to do with those individuals that had everything to do with the situation. And that was probably the other biggest moment for me. Ooh. Because I found this, I found this new passion for life that I didn’t know I, that that existed inside of me, which is okay.

[00:37:40] I don’t have to know everything. I don’t have to have a CS degree. I don’t have to be the best engineer, but I have to give a damn. And yes, if you give a damn enough, you’ll get a lot more in return. And that’s what’s really led me beyond that and I’ve been able to do that with different technology plays and leaning into different things and trying stuff.

[00:38:00] And I’ve now helped raise over 20 million for various charities and nonprofit organizations just purpose-driven organizations. Just in the last 10 years because I just care enough to try and it always comes back to you tenfold a hundred fold every single time, but it just takes putting the work in and staying true to what you want.

[00:38:24] Zach White: The world’s never been changed by somebody who. Kind of sort of cares. Ah, Jim, I love this so much and resonates with my, my own heart. And I, you know, went on a two week trip to Honduras, back in my high school days The whole experience from start to finish. I like how you said that shifts your biochemistry.

[00:38:45] It’s like your nervous system gets rewired around the experience and you’ll hear the title of this podcast as the Happy Engineer. And one of the things that I remember that stood out so vividly is meeting these kids. 10, 11, 12 years old who were so happy and they had nothing.

[00:39:04] They had nothing, but they were so happy. it’s like, how is that possible? You know? And this just everything shifted for me in those times, but Wow. Okay. We’re gonna have to do another conversation to just keep pulling these threads, but I really do appreciate it. I think everybody can relate to a deep desire, something inside their heart that is, Led from a place of purpose.

[00:39:28] And when you’re in that vein, everything just flows and moves. I like, it’s like it returns a hundred fold and when you’re going against that, everything has friction. Everything is harder than it has to be. Nothing is working. And so it, you know, maybe if somebody, Is wondering why their life feels that way.

[00:39:47] Listen to Jim’s story like this. Just find yourself in that, wh where are you and when when’s that catalyst moment where you need to lean into something new? But, um, amazing. So Jim, if somebody wants to explore their own, Pathway towards purpose and, and a cause they can care about or just learn more about what you’re up to today.

[00:40:06] We barely even talked about the amazing work that you’re doing now. There’s so much we can explore, we’ll just have to do around two. But how can people get connected to the real Jim Carter? None of this old president nonsense. The Jim Carter iii. The man Yeah, he is. How could people get cut online 

[00:40:24] Jim Carter III: for those reasons?

[00:40:25] But that’s okay. Uh, he, he’s absolutely earned that, 

[00:40:29] Zach White: right? So I would say, He cared a little and it’s, he had a high station, so we’ll give him that one. Definitely, 

[00:40:36] Jim Carter III: uh, for me, so I mentioned cause hacker, so that’s my handle on all the socials. Uh, Instagram, I , I post daily content now about, AI and purpose-driven efforts, things like this.

[00:40:48] So, uh, that’s where if you wanna slide into a DM and say, Hey, uh, share a story, tag me on something cool you’re doing, by all means, please do. Instagram is my primary, I share a lot about how AI is helping small business owners, engineers, you know, like us doing awesome things that require code, that don’t require code, and just making a bigger impact.

[00:41:10] so Instagram, feel free to connect on LinkedIn, at YouTube channel where I review AI sites. Uh, all those places are great. I would love, uh, love to connect with you and honestly, probably the easiest way to, to stay in touch and just to hear more of what I have to say, if you like. This is, , I have a newsletter that I share every single week, three of the biggest things in the AI industry that are coming up and, uh, how it relates to how we can make sense of it.

[00:41:35] In fact, um, I’m sharing a little bit about kinda that story with my daughter and, what chappy G p t and things could be like that in an upcoming one. So I’m, I’m trying to find ways to take big concepts, but you don’t have to be technical to make sense of what it could be for your life. and if that’s interesting, uh, just head over Jim and uh, feel free to jump in, totally free.

[00:41:56] I love growing that and just the conversations that that opens up are, are wonderful. Awesome. And that awesome. That’s the kind of stuff that brings me joy. 

[00:42:04] Zach White: Awesome, happy engineer. I want to challenge you, encourage you go sign up for the newsletter and pay attention to what Jim is doing, not only because you’ll actually find a tremendous value in it, but thinking about a role model of someone who took a lifetime of technical acumen and expertise and found unique ways to apply it into.

[00:42:25] A purposeful cause that is now making a, a positive impact in the world, in serious ways. It’s, it’s something that will help you with wherever you are at to ask the same question and get to where you want to go. So go hang out around people like Jim, and it will help you to find those catalyst moments in your own journey.

[00:42:44] Jim, thank you again so much for being generous with your time today. No surprise, a man who leads with value and generosity in everything that you do. But, uh, To wrap it up, we talk about great coaching, great engineering, and it came up in this conversation whether it’s from chat, G p T or any other place.

[00:43:02] Better questions lead to better answers. The question leads, the answer follows, so what would you leave the happy engineer with today? What’s the question that we need to ask ourselves as we seek better answers in our life? 

[00:43:17] Jim Carter III: Ooh, that’s a great question in itself. What question would we leave to seek better answers?

[00:43:25] I think it starts with questioning ourself about are the things that we’re doing something that we truly believe that we’re built for, or are we built for more? Because that’s what did it for me. Once I gut checked myself and I sat with the answer whether I liked it or I didn’t, it just gave me clarity to know what I should do next.

[00:43:49] So, Putting the ego aside and being willing to really see if you’re built for something more. That’s, that’s the question I would ask myself. 

[00:43:59] Zach White: I like how you framed that. The question is to question myself. 

[00:44:05] Jim Carter III: That’s really powerful. I may or may not have read that in a Marcus Aurelius book. I couldn’t tell you, but 

[00:44:10] Zach White: here we are.

[00:44:11] Well, Marcus, if you’re up there and you tuned in Yeah, thank you for, 

[00:44:16] Jim Carter III: gimme a download on what page that was and your memoir credit 

[00:44:19] Zach White: tune. Credit is due. Yeah. Ah, Jim, thank you. That is so good. And I, I love that. What an opportunity to turn the mirror back on ourselves and just say, Is this what I was built for or was I made for something more?

[00:44:32] Thank you so much, Jim. Let’s do it again. We’ve got a lot more to talk about, but thank you for your time today, man. It’s been 

[00:44:36] Jim Carter III: awesome. Appreciate you, brother. Talk soon.