In this episode, meet a man dedicated to helping engineers realize how great our jobs can be, Greg Martin. Turns out, engineering careers can be fun again!
10 years into his 2-year career plan, he experienced a burnout crisis and was forced to make a drastic change. His pivot into the restaurant business was thwarted by the pandemic, and life lessons learned the hard way continued.
Greg challenges every employee and business owner to not be afraid of wanting what you really want! Because you won’t know what’s possible for you until you run bolder experiments and test the limits of what your current situation will provide.
As an investment banker, angel investor, entrepreneur and regular host of the Lifetime at Work podcast, Greg is on a mission to explore the world of work, the ups and downs behind taking big risks and the payoffs that come with it.
So press play and let’s chat… because the payoffs can be huge if you’ll take action.
Want to meet more engineers focused on career growth? Join us in a live workshop for deeper training, career coaching 1:1, and FREE stuff! HAPPY HOUR! Live with Zach
The Happy Engineer Podcast
WATCH EPISODE 128: Work-Life Integration: How an Engineer Found Balance Through Multiple Career Paths
TIMESTAMPED VIDEO OVERVIEW
[00:01:03] Thinking about work, food, and restaurants.
[00:04:06] Got into Investment Banking for experience and learning.
[00:09:06] Career crisis led to leaving banking industry, starting food business, and eventually returning due to COVID-19.
[00:12:36] Downward spiral of burnout and disengagement.
[00:16:19] Mass departure led to HR role turnaround.
[00:18:53] Mid-thirties conversations about jobs and perspectives.
[00:23:34] Variety in life; finding fulfillment in work.
[00:25:08] Variety in life, balancing work and fulfillment.
[00:31:11] “Shifting and adapting for happiness in work.”
[00:33:31] Check out Greg’s interviews for an awesome listen.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Visit Greg’s Website: https://www.lifetimeatwork.com/
- Connect with Greg on LinkedIn
- Do you need help accelerating a successful engineering career and a creating a happy, balanced life? Book a FREE Career Growth Audit™️ now!
LISTEN TO EPISODE 128: You Work Too Hard to Miss Bigger Opportunity with Greg Martin
How an Engineer Found Balance Through Multiple Career Paths
In this episode of The Happy Engineer Podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Greg Martin who embarked on a fascinating journey of career transitions, searching for fulfillment, and ultimately rediscovering the joy of work. His story is both inspiring and insightful, offering valuable lessons and perspectives for engineers and professionals alike.
Here are the top three insights:
1. The Power of Mindset Shift: Our guest’s journey emphasizes the need to shift our mindset and perspective when dealing with work challenges. It’s about finding joy in our work by setting goals, seeking fulfillment, and adapting to our circumstances.
2. Embracing Change and Adaptation: Fulfillment isn’t just about changing jobs; it’s about personal growth and adaptability. This episode shows how shifting mindset and habits can bring satisfaction and fulfillment, even in tough work environments.
3. The Doom Loop and Breaking Free: Greg shares an important cautionary tale about the doom loop many professionals find themselves in. When burnout and disengagement take hold, it becomes a downward spiral that erodes our ability to perform at our best. Recognizing the signs and taking action to break free from this cycle is crucial for our well-being and long-term success.
To go deeper and build an action plan around these points and why all this matters, click the podcast links above and listen to the entire conversation.
ABOUT GREG MARTIN
Greg is part of the founding team at Origin Merchant Partners, a boutique investment bank focused on mergers & acquisitions and working with entrepreneurs of all kinds every day. He previously founded and operated a restaurant, catering and food e-commerce business which he has since exited. In addition, he is the host of the Lifetime at Work Podcast, all about exploring the careers of different people with the pains, struggles and the fulfilment they can bring.
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:
Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.
[00:00:00] Zach White: Alright, happy engineer, welcome back. And Greg, dude, uh, we just saw each other the other day. It’s awesome to be back with you. Welcome to the Happy Engineer Podcast.
[00:00:08] Greg Martin: Thanks for having me, Zach. Ready to do this again?
Expand to Read Full Transcript
[00:00:10] Zach White: Super fun. So for those who don’t know, uh, and I don’t know in terms of order of release, one of these episodes will come first, but I just had the privilege of being featured on your amazing podcast.
[00:00:19] I’m sure we’ll talk about Lifetime at work at one or multiple points today. But thanks for that invite and glad we can have you here now because there’s a. Incredible body of work that you’ve been building and doing on your show that is super important for the Happy engineer. But before we go there, Greg, I, I saw something in my prep around who you are and your story that just caught my attention.
[00:00:45] I really curious, I said, Greg is a food guy. At heart, so I’m kind of hungry. Let, let’s talk about food for a second. Is that okay? Can we talk about that? Yes. Yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah, totally. So what does that really mean? What does that look like for you when it says you’re a food guy at heart?
[00:00:59] Where does food fit into your business and life
[00:01:02] Greg Martin: journey? what that means is that I’m thinking about it all the time. Unfortunately, fortunately, or unfortunately, I remember when I started my career, 22 in investment banking, I was working, nine to probably 11 on average every day.
[00:01:16] 14 hour days and, and maybe more, maybe less, but I would so look forward to the break. and there was a few of us who were really into food, and we would actually, there was this website that was based, think of it like Instagram for food.
[00:01:28] Okay. Because we didn’t know what to eat. It was like, this is the exciting part of our day where we get to leave. Our computers and go out in the world and, get something. So we would look for inspiration from these pictures and be, oh, we should get this. Oh, we should get this. So, you know, that’s probably where, where it started or comes from.
[00:01:41] But, you know, then I went on to get actually involved in the, in the in I would go to a restaurant and just be, fascinated. Not just buy, the food that was coming out or what I was ordering, but how the restaurant worked and Mm. And, and the way that just the hospitality Yeah.
[00:01:56] Cool angle around it was all going, the business angle of it. So that’s just, that’s how I
[00:01:59] Zach White: think. That’s wild. Okay. So 14 hour days, we’re gonna come back to that ’cause that’s intense, when you say like, Hey, we get a break. We’re talking like, this is your lunch break, this is a dinner, break that one time away for the day, and like where are you?
[00:02:12] Are you in New York City at the time or what? What’s going on in life for you? I. Yeah,
[00:02:17] Greg Martin: so I’m Canadian. So I was in Toronto, which is the, think of it, bay Street where I was as the Wall Street of, of Toronto. Not quite the scale and the grandeur, but some of this sort of the same idea and all of the, call it investment banks, the lawyers, the, you know, call it accountants too as well, are all sort of there down downtown and pre pandemic, it’s a lot different now, but pre pandemic, when I started Micro, it was 2007 when I started.
[00:02:40] It’s super vibrant. Like there’s lots going on. There’s lots of people down there all the time. Yeah. And lunch was a busy time, but I would have dinner down there every day as well. We would get a, $5 food allowance for dinner. So, you know, when you’re working all evening, you wanna make use of it.
[00:02:54] Wow. You wanna buy something good.
[00:02:55] Zach White: Okay, so Greg, it may not even be the same today as it was back then, but if I were there, you know, circa 2000 8, 9, 10, when you were in your prime days and it was dinnertime, where would you tell me to go? What’s like the place that stands out to you the most? I. The
[00:03:10] Greg Martin: problem is when you eat dinner out every night, you kind of get tired of it a little bit in this, in the, in the echo.
[00:03:15] So we would have phases we would go through. There was a good teroni, there was a good Italian spot that we would go to a lot, and then we’d flip over to sushi and then do that for a while. So it’s a whole game of playing. How much time do I have? What can I eat? there were some good Italian places
[00:03:29] And so yeah, that, that was how, how we, sort
[00:03:31] Zach White: of lived. Um,
[00:03:32] Oh man. Okay. Well, 14 hour days, looking forward to breaks just to get food. Clearly sets the tone for why life and work and everything that you do now is so important. But let’s back it up. So you go into investment banking, Greg, what’s your. What’s your journey through this work? Give us a quick sense of that path and what sparked in you, the transformation that led to Greg today that operates in a completely different way.
[00:04:01] So starting from investment banking, help us understand how you got here.
[00:04:06] Greg Martin: I got into investment banking initially because I was a, a business, a commerce guy, and I thought I would be an accountant when I discovered finance you know, the money component of numbers.
[00:04:17] I was really intrigued by it, and I kind of took the job I could get, it wasn’t like I had a hundred jobs to work with here. I got a job in investment banking and Finishing my undergrad. I did this radio in my undergrad. I didn’t know anything. And so the reason I got into domestic banking was I felt like, ah, if I’m gonna work all the time, I must be able to learn stuff.
[00:04:33] Like it must be a good chance to just absorb. And so I thought I’d do it for a couple years. And go do something else, because just mentally to, to know that you’re gonna work those type of hours and mm-hmm. Give up your friends and family and a lot of social engagements and that sort of thing.
[00:04:48] It was just, it was a lot. So, psychologically I had to tell myself, okay, I’m just gonna do this for a few years. however, I’m still doing it now. I did take a break, but I’m still in the investment banking world today. Now the hours are not like that. I’ve, got a lot more. Something closer to a nine to five.
[00:05:01] It’s probably a little bit, it’s more than that, but it’s, a lot more manageable as you get more senior and, and the, and the company and the group that I’m with now. But that was sort of how I started my career. And it’s kind of how you have to, I mean, I, I, I looked at lawyers and accountants and like, I had a roommate who was an accountant and he maybe wasn’t working quite till 11 or 12 every night, but he was working till nine or 10 like it was, he was, it, it wasn’t.
[00:05:23] Too far off. We were just these downtown people working a lot. Yeah, yeah. And that was our
[00:05:28] Zach White: lives. So Greg, this is interesting, and I think engineers relate to this. I relate to this where we’re not sure if we’re allowed to say no, can we do it any differently? So the culture here is 14 hour days. The culture here is, nine to nine.
[00:05:47] It’s 12 hour days, whatever. And so people will say to me, you know, well, Zach, I can’t. Work less hours at this company. It’s just the way we do it. But you just told us, Hey, I did 14 hour days in investment banking when I was young. Now I’ve discovered a new way where I have, maybe it’s not a perfect 40 hour work week, but it’s certainly not anything like what it was.
[00:06:09] Is that because you’ve changed the company and now you work at a place with a different culture? Or have you learned that there are in fact ways to control and set those boundaries that if you had known then I. You actually could have left the office sooner. You just didn’t. what’s the reality there?
[00:06:27] Greg Martin: So now I feel like you might have some more flexibility if you were to start in the, in, in this career, and people are a little bit more forgiving. But no, there was no option. It was just known. starting when I started. you just had to work that hard. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t got promoted.
[00:06:43] People wouldn’t have liked you. People, you wouldn’t, it wouldn’t have given you work. You wouldn’t have lasted very long. Yeah. half of your compensation is bonus. And that bonus though it’s not actually as variable as it sort of, Make it seem it can be. So there, there’s sort of this fear that if you didn’t do it, if you didn’t work as hard as you needed to, then you wouldn’t get any bonus.
[00:06:59] And that’s what, what am I here for? What am I doing? So I never thought of that. I never thought of, doing less. I always just wanted to be successful. And so I would, try to, and, and work as hard as you can. And the problem was that if you were the type of person who figured it out and could leave early, which I probably was like, I probably was a little bit more efficient and quicker than average, you just get more work.
[00:07:18] because people would see that and everyone was there, right? Yeah, it was, there was always work from home. There was no, it was, you were in person and I worked Saturdays, I was in the office most Saturdays, as well, and Sunday, I think now what’s changed, I think a couple things.
[00:07:31] One is, yes, there have been a, there has been a lot of press in this industry, in invested banking in particular to, to take it easy on young people. And so there is, There are a lot more companies that are flexible. However, I’ve also, basically, as I’ve matured in my career, I mean, I’ve been in it for 15 years.
[00:07:48] Uh, the company that I am now with, it’s called Origin Merchant Partners, and we’re, we’re a boutique investment bank, so we’re, we were basically a, a bunch of people who didn’t like a bunch of things about the big bank, call it. And we, started a new one, effectively a, a boutique. Independent bank and we have a lot more control over all these things.
[00:08:09] I e yeah, yeah. Clear. The idea around it is to, is not to just do work for the sake of doing work, which I think just happens in an investment bank traditionally, but to do stuff that matters, to really focus on the culture of the company and making it a bit different. Now you’re still not getting into this industry or working for us if you really want like a nine to five or a nine to four, and.
[00:08:29] And it’s not sure. You still do have to work, especially if you’re in the younger stages. But, at the same time, we certainly have made a lot of effort to try to respect people’s time and giving them that ability to have a life outside of work, which,
[00:08:42] Zach White: so some macro trends have shifted slightly, it sounds like, which Yep.
[00:08:46] Covid accelerated, some of that, I think. But tell me on your personal journey, where was the point? Where that changed, where you actually said, I need to approach this differently, or I need to get into a, a different environment. for me, I had significant burnout in my own career. That led to a total shift in how I approached work.
[00:09:04] Was there a moment like that for you? There was a bunch.
[00:09:08] Greg Martin: you know, like there’s a bunch of times where I just, I was like, oh my God, what am I doing? Like I’m working way too much and, and, and bailed. The biggest one was when I reached that 10 year mark. So I had worked in investment banking for 10, 11 years basically.
[00:09:22] And I had sort of planned for two years and I, I sort of look back at that, at that Greg of, of many years ago and said, geez, I, is this, is this what I’m doing? Is this it? Am I just gonna do this for the rest of my life, the rest of my career? And so I had a bit of a, some sort of crisis there and I ended up leaving.
[00:09:38] I ended up sort of quitting and I had. Previously invested in a food business. It was a restaurant and catering business, and. Part of the idea was I also had a young kid at the time, I think my son was, was one and a half, two years old, and I just, I didn’t like being getting home at seven o’clock every night.
[00:09:57] I, and I looked at a lot of people in my industry and my company, people who had,even more senior than me who were, they didn’t really see their kids during the week. They would see them on the weekends, and that was it. And I, I didn’t want that. And so part of the reason for me leaving was to go find that and to be able to do that.
[00:10:12] So I ended up, get getting more and more involved working at this restaurant and catering business. it’s a whole other story of what the pandemic did to that business and, and had me then, uh, come back to the best banking industry. But it’s interesting what Covid did because Covid actually made it even better or even more acceptable, I would say, to work from home.
[00:10:31] So now I’m in a situation where I work from home for three days a week, and it’s perfect because I can be. at least twice a week be at my kids’ activities, right at five. I don’t have to commute. and at the same time, I can be present at work.
[00:10:45] I need to see people. I’m just the type of person who I, I wanna be in an office. I like yeah. Talking to my colleagues and, and all that. And so that balance has really been enabled by covid in a lot of ways, which was to me, a part of the reason and rationale for me, kind of getting back into the industry after
[00:11:01] Zach White: I left it.
[00:11:02] Sure. So back up to this crisis moment, and this is something so many of the leaders I’ve coached can relate to where, oh, I planned for two years, 10 years later, I look up and I’m like, wow, how did I get here? Is this it? Is this really the life that I’m living? And so what was going on in that crisis for you?
[00:11:20] I mean, were, were there things happening in your life that were downward spiraling? Was there health issues or like what triggered you to pull your head up and say, gosh, is this it?
[00:11:32] Greg Martin: Honestly, I didn’t like work anymore. That was probably the big thing.I realized I didn’t like it as as much, and I just stopped working hard.
[00:11:39] I would just slowly start to work a little bit less hard over time but it made me unhappy because I actually find, and I get a lot of fulfillment and joy out of working and just that idea of trying to be good at something and I actually got to the point where I just felt like I wasn’t good at it anymore because I didn’t care, because I didn’t want to be there.
[00:11:58] part of it was that I just had done it for so long. I was doing the same job for 10 years And I remember thinking like, how many times have I done the same thing over? Like someone would ask me, Hey, can you work on this new client? And I’m like, I’ve done that like 20 times.
[00:12:11] What I have to do it again. Like, and I was bored, I was frustrated. I just wasn’t really enjoying it. And that was really, and it wasn’t this instant moment of any kind. It was a very like just. It weighed on me for years, months. I think I, frankly, I came up with the idea for the food restaurant whole thing in 2014, and it wasn’t until 2018 that I left, actually finally left.
[00:12:34] So it was, it
[00:12:34] Zach White: was a long time coming spiral. Yeah. Greg, I can, I mean, I think this, this sort of downward spiral doom loop thing. Is something that people really need to pay attention to. So I wanna highlight it because it’s so sneaky. It’s like you start to burn out and disengage from your work for whatever reason.
[00:12:52] And then because of that, you don’t actually do your best work anymore. In some ways, you’re not capable of doing your best work. ’cause the energy’s not there. The focus isn’t there. you’re not. Able to show up at a hundred percent. And then because you’re not doing your best work, you’re the kind of person who that’s not who you are, that’s not your values.
[00:13:11] That’s not how you wanna show up. Like you didn’t wake up in the morning and say, my goal today is to work at half of my potential and not even really do good work. that doesn’t align with your identity. So then there’s this. Almost, frustration or, like a shame that kind of builds up around like, gosh, I’m, I’m really not even trying, I’m just getting by.
[00:13:32] That burns me out even more and then I do even worse work. And like, and it’s, it’s subtle. It’s not like you, you go from a hundred percent to 50% to zero in in a week. Like you said, it’s this slow decay till one day you wake up and you’re just absolutely dreading. Going into the office. Yeah. But you do it anyway because work is work.
[00:13:52] You just take shortcuts.
[00:13:54] Greg Martin: Yeah. You just slowly, you’re like, ah, that worked last time. No one said anything. I’m gonna do it. Take a little bit more of a shortcut, a little bit more of a shortcut, a little bit more of a shortcut.
[00:14:01] Zach White: Totally. Yeah. And then, you know, unfortunately for a lot of people it’s not until some.
[00:14:05] really negative consequence happens that they finally wake up, they do get fired because their performance suffers or they get laid off, or they have a health issue. Or for me, you walk in your house and there’s a note that your wife wants to get a divorce, something that shocks you out of this.
[00:14:21] Yeah. And you, you look back and you see how big that delta is, it’s like, gosh, how did I slip this far? So, so tell us one more thing, and then I wanna come back and talk about some lessons from this and where you’re at now, but. What then gave you the idea to go back into investment banking? You quit, you had the crisis, you got into the restaurant business and all of this other side of your life, and now you’re back into it.
[00:14:43] So what triggered that? I
[00:14:46] Greg Martin: did have a bit of reluctance going back for sure. what was interesting was that. I owned and ran and worked at a restaurant, downtown restaurant that focused on offices during the pandemic. And so it was stressful. Like I had just an, I had just an incredible amount of financial and just stress through that.
[00:15:07] I, I couldn’t sleep anymore. I’d wake up at two or 3:00 AM and then I’d be up, um, every night. And so, Just ha because I didn’t know, I didn’t know how to solve the problem of how do I take a restaurant, a place that I’m paying rent for, or we are paying rent for, and turn that into something that may, we tried, we tried lots of things, but it just, it just wasn’t the same.
[00:15:27] And so, you know, it ended up happening. They reached out to me and said, Hey, you know, we’re actually really struggling on a bunch of fronts. ’cause what also happened during
[00:15:35] Zach White: the pandemic was the investment bank is where you Yeah, the investment
[00:15:38] Greg Martin: bank.
[00:15:38] Okay. They, they were, um, at that time was probably 20, 25 people. it was a small culture and really what it relied on was people being together and working together on stuff. And no one was doing that. They were all at home. Working like crazy ’cause there was a lot of work to do. It was a busy time, the market was good and they were all miserable and the culture had just declined so much that they needed help.
[00:15:59] And so that’s why I sort of came in there being like being just. Well, you guys are making money here. This is great business. I forgot about this. You guys like yeah. Paycheck and all this sort of stuff. And so I, I came back under that guys, but I was very reluctant and I said, okay, I’ll give you guys like, 10 hours a week, I’ll give you guys 15 hours.
[00:16:17] And I just slowly increased and wind up happening once. Interesting. A ton of people left. We had a couple of really bad weeks, all at once, and we had a huge exodus and people were freaking out. and I was still in the same, I was like, guys, what do you like, make mo We have clients, what are you guys worried about?
[00:16:33] And they were just, everyone was really, really worried about it. And so I actually came back, because I hadn’t been working full-time yet, I came back in a lot more of a. HR role to hire people, to kind of restore the culture of the firm. Yeah. And with that, I, I kind of restored it in myself too, I think, and realized all of the, all of what I had before that I didn’t realize I had before, and what I could get out of the same company and the same job, the flexibility they could afford me and all that sort of stuff.
[00:17:02] And, it was funny. I real, I, I didn’t think I had this flexibility, but. When I came back and I said, well, here’s what I wanna do or I’m willing to do, and they were like, yeah, totally. Can you please do that? That’s great. Uh, we want you to do that. And I mm-hmm. I was like, okay. that just kind of kept happening and so now I’ve been back full-time for, yeah, two and a half years.
[00:17:19] Zach White: Amazing. The word that comes to mind as you describe that is perspective. I talk about mindset a lot and perspective a lot with my clients and in, in the work for myself doing work within my own business. And it’s so easy to fall into a conditioned pattern of thinking, a mindset or perspective when you’re in your own little bubble.
[00:17:40] And I, I always remind myself of this phrase that it’s really hard to read the label on the outside of the bottle that you’re stuck inside. Yeah, and it’s super important to get outside of the glass, get outside the bottle in your life, and yeah, for me, that’s why working with a coach is so important.
[00:17:58] Working with somebody external to my world who can see things from the outside that I don’t see, but what a neat. Gift for you to be able to step into that culture where everybody was zoomed in on how bad everything was, and you’re seeing this whole different picture, a very unique perspective of coming back in like, Hey, this is awesome.
[00:18:17] You guys are actually making money. this is great. And yeah, makes you an incredible leader in that culture just because you have a different perspective. And I think every engineer needs to remember that, like one of the powerful. Pieces of leadership is perspective. To be able to show people a side that they may not see.
[00:18:38] So you now host Lifetime at Work, this incredible podcast talking about all of these things, you know, the lessons learned and other people. Tell us really quick about the podcast and what prompted you to start that.
[00:18:53] Greg Martin: So I started it I guess call me. I’m in my mid thirties and that was just the conversation I was having with everyone I knew was, what are you doing now?
[00:19:00] Do you like your job? And what do you like about it? What do you dislike? What do you wanna maybe do later? And it’s one of those things though, that you don’t talk about with seriousness, I guess, or with the serious you need. And I just felt like I wanted to have those conversations with people. I also started during the pandemic and I hadn’t been talking to people very much and having many conversations and I thought, well, let’s maybe record these and just have good conversations with people about their job, what they love, what they hate, their fulfillment they get from it.
[00:19:28] And yeah, really the goal is for people to listen to that and realize that like they’re not alone. That. There are different ways and perspectives, and there are, regular people out there who also feel how you feel and who also have been through these challenges and who maybe have come out the other side or have a different perspective that has just helped and perspective.
[00:19:49] that can be helpful. So that’s really the idea of different guest every, episode. And
[00:19:52] Zach White: that’s kind of the idea, what I like, even just in the title. Lifetime at work. Greg, you tell me if this is true for your guests and in your own experience, but for the engineers that I talk to every single week, the vast majority of them really have no idea what they want to be doing with their career at any point in the future.
[00:20:15] Beyond like a very short window, you usually, it’s, I kind of sort of wanna be a director of engineering or i’d, I’d love to one day be a C T O or at some very. Vanilla kind of statement about generally I’d love to build my career in some direction, but they don’t actually have clarity on what they want and rarely have they thought about.
[00:20:36] Anything beyond a few years, oh my goodness, I’m in my thirties. I’ve still got 20 or 30 years, maybe more. If I don’t want to retire at some age or even after retirement, what might I do like that? That has never even crossed their mind. And so I’m curious for you, what are you seeing? As people have these conversations, you know, is that important for us to really think about our lifetime at work now?
[00:21:02] Or is it something that doesn’t really matter at all? You can just kind of show up and let it happen? Yeah, everyone
[00:21:06] Greg Martin: has a different take on it. I think mine comes from that whole thing. You know, you’re at a party and you’re meeting someone for the first time and you ask them, well, what do you do?
[00:21:15] Yeah. What do you, and many people interpret that some people are so offended that you would a answer with a work thing that they say like, no, no, no, I’m not, I’m not. I don’t defined by my job. And you know, my perspective has always been that. A yes, you, you can take that approach that your job doesn’t matter, but you spend so many hours of your life working.
[00:21:35] Yeah. and there are so many people out there in this day, like in the times that we’re living, that get a ton of fulfillment outta their job and really, Own it and do that. I, I think that’s how we have to think about it. And the way that I’ve realized and what I’ve realized is that there, there’s no shame in, in being what you do for a living.
[00:21:54] Yeah. it’s not saying, Hey, I am a and I don’t wanna offend anyone, but, pick this terrible job that comes to your mind, in your head. And, and that, that there’s shame on that. It’s,Like this is, this is who I am, this is what I’ve decided to do. And I just think that.
[00:22:08] Like life is a journey. It’s about the journey. It’s not about the result. It’s not where you end up and so is your career. Your career is not about where you end up and whether you are the c e O in the end, or whether you are the richest person at the end. It’s, I. What you did along the way and the journey to get there and whether it was fun and what you learned about yourself and the skills you developed mm-hmm.
[00:22:28] And who you met and the friends and the relationships that you built around it. And that’s what it is. And like, our work is our lives. This is it. This is our life’s work. When you think back to Beethoven or the great people of, of whatever Einstein, like it was, yeah. Yes.
[00:22:42] It was what they were, but it was also like that was their job. And so that becomes, I think, who, who we are. Yeah.
[00:22:49] Zach White: This is an interesting statement. I wanna highlight it. Our, our work is our lives. Greg, there’s the popular saying, I’m sure you’ve heard it. I don’t want to live to work. I wanna work to live.
[00:23:02] Yeah. And I think people take that as a, you know, that’s a, a stake in the ground that I’m not on the planet just to go make a dime. Like I do the work so that I can live the life I wanna live and. This would be a very different mindset towards it. Like, no, like your work is your life. Not all of it, but a big, big part of it.
[00:23:26] So what would you say to somebody who’s like, Greg, that’s, that’s total nonsense. I just work to live, I don’t live to work.
[00:23:34] Greg Martin: so take it back to a food saying, of that I like, which is, uh, you know, variety is the spice of life. I, I would say that yes, I love traveling, but if I was traveling six months of the year, I wouldn’t like it.
[00:23:45] I would all of a sudden I think, come to hate travel. I just sort of think of life as a bunch of different things. You have kids, you, you go out with friends, you have different phases of your life. You do a lot of work. You go to school, and a lot of it is this. Yeah. Again, this journey, you probably have to work.
[00:24:04] to do whatever you wanna do, right. whatever that is, whatever that living is that you said. So if you can love what you’re doing, and it’s not this, I hope it’s not a cliche. I thinkYou know, you’re not really working if you love it. I don’t subscribe to that Totally.
[00:24:15] I’m not, I’m not totally in that camp. I, I think, yes, we are trying to find something that we love, but I, I think that in any job there are things that you love about it and there’s things that you won’t. I think you’re not gonna love everything about every job, and I think that’s fine, but I think that what you should try to strive for is getting fulfillment in some way.
[00:24:32] Yeah, for yourself outta that job. And if you can, I think your life is, is richer. I think there’s a richness there and I think that there are enough people out there who have done that who say whether they actually believe it or whether it’s true or not, who say that they love their job and they actually like it and they do get that fulfillment, that it is something worth striving for.
[00:24:49] So that’s what I try to tell people is try to like it. you’re great on the mindset stuff, which I, I think is super important. yeah. I realized it by. Starting in a job, leaving it, and then coming back like that. My enjoyment out of it was totally mindset. Yeah. that is totally true.
[00:25:04] I, I can’t not agree with that and I I appreciate that. Yeah. This is my approach.
[00:25:08] Zach White: So I like the varieties, the spice of life reminder. I tell people I don’t really believe in work life balance because work is part of our life and so let’s balance our whole life. And the other thing, In terms of mindset, when people give me that quote, you know, Zach, I don’t wanna work to live.
[00:25:25] I wanna, uh, or I don’t wanna live to work. I wanna work to live. Just say, well, who said you had to pick one? Yeah. Like, I, I like to challenge back. Say, why? Why do you have to pick one? Why can’t you do both of those things? You know, when you’re working? Absolutely love it and find deep fulfillment in it and enjoy it.
[00:25:41] Oh, and by the way, that also will yield a, a reward the fruit of your labor and financial gain that you can then use to explore and create more variety and more joy in your life as well. but to me, I’ve never met someone Somebody, I would absolutely say I want to have their life because they’re so happy, they’re so fulfilled, they’re so full of meaning and purpose and joy and love.
[00:26:04] And I’ve never met someone in that situation who does not find fulfillment in work. Like vocation is a part of their existence. there’s something innate in human nature that like we were designed. To do work that matters, to make an impact, to make a difference through work.
[00:26:21] So I love that. Greg, what would be the other top lessons if you were just gonna say one or two things, and I wanna maybe specifically ask you, because you have this experience, if someone is in engineering and they’re working longer hours than they want to be working, maybe they just had their first child and that’s making them aware that these long hours aren’t gonna be good.
[00:26:44] Maybe they’re burning out. They’re in that situation, what are the things that you would say, think this or do this or change this to get into a healthier balance on hours, if that’s their reality?
[00:27:00] Greg Martin: I would say the very first one is, don’t be afraid to want that. because I think that we are, we, we sort of have ’cause I just worry that it’s in our heads and a lot of times where it’s just, it is possible to work less.
[00:27:12] It is possible to, to leave earlier. It is possible, but you never say it because you think you’re just worried about offending people, about upsetting people, about not being as good at your job. And you know what? When you have kids I have too. They are a lot of work. No matter what, a lot of random things happen that take time and you’ve gotta address and like, I think it’s completely normal to want to have some more flexibility to deal with those things and to enjoy them and whatever.
[00:27:37] And if that means. A little bit less money or less of a promotion or a longer promotion, whatever. It’s That’s fine. I, I don’t, don’t feel bad about it. You are still a good person. Like, don’t worry about it.
[00:27:47] Zach White: That’s really important. I, I just wanna like put a big exclamation point on that. Don’t be afraid to want what you want.
[00:27:54] It’s okay. It’s totally
[00:27:55] Greg Martin: fine. Tell people about it like this. It’s not crazy. If you are so afraid when you tell your boss that you want a little extra more time to spend with your child, that he’s going to freak out or she’s going to freak out, then maybe you need a new job or you need a new boss.
[00:28:07] But I think it’s okay and they can, you can work together and they can say, okay, well we gotta get this done, or whatever, and you can work, together on it. Like, I don’t think that wanting those things should be bad. I’d also would highly recommend people, if you haven’t read it, the four hour work week.
[00:28:20] for Tim Ferris, it, it’s one of my favorite, if not my favorite books. it just, I think the perspective on how he thinks about it and that whole work life balance and what it can be is just, just an important check. there are a lot of things you can do.
[00:28:32] And we maybe don’t even think about it to make our lives more efficient, our work lives more efficient. Mm-hmm. Um, so I would suggest that, and you can just start reading about it, like honestly chat g p t, like use it, it’s good. it is gonna be better than you at certain things.
[00:28:44] there’s a bunch of these things that I think you can do to, get time Totally good. And, um,it’s just exploring, just being out there. I think you talking to other people, figuring out whether it is that you need a new job, or whether it is that you need a new role.
[00:28:55] Maybe, you know, maybe you’re on a track to get promoted every year and you’ve got the, but it’s like, I gotta go do something else in the company because it’s, it’s a little bit more flexible on the time. And, my perspective is actually the same. There are things that I can do in my job that I want to do that I.
[00:29:10] My goals. but I don’t have time for them right now and I’m gonna wait for my kids to be a bit older and then go after them. So
[00:29:17] Zach White: I get that. I get that. wow. So any other things? If you were gonna say, look, if you want more meaning and fulfillment and, and happiness in your work, the things that you’ve discovered in your own journey, Greg, and from the amazing.
[00:29:33] Conversations on your podcast. If there was anything else that really stands out to you as an important mindset or an important way of showing up to your career and your life to achieve that, what would be the, sort of final period you would put on today’s conversation around this?
[00:29:51] Greg Martin: it’s unlikely that you’re going to change your boss or your company. They are probably the way they’re going to be. And so deal with it. Figure out what you need to do within those parameters to enjoy it.
[00:30:05] A lot of that is mindset, A lot of whatever, but you’re not like, Don’t sit there and complain and be whatever like my boss is, so like they are who they are. They’re just gonna be that you’re not changing it. because a lot of what you do and a lot of what you enjoy, and what I found a ton of fulfillment from is setting goals and achieving them.
[00:30:20] Right? A very achievable goal as they can be one in a day or one in a week, but just, you know, you’re trying to go somewhere, you’re trying to get somewhere within your job and. Part of the challenge and the parameters is that your boss and your job and the culture of your firm and whatever is part of that, and so don’t, yeah.
[00:30:34] You can’t try to change it and you can’t, complaining and whatever is not really going to change it. I think you just have to work with, learn to work within that, and if you can’t, if it’s just so hard, then yes, you probably need to leave, but it’s an incredible amount of mindset
[00:30:46] So I would say that would be the lasting thing I’d, leave with people is that, you do need some sort of reset. You do need to think through those things a little bit. And because it’s hard, it is hard to change. All of a sudden it’s hard to change your perspective. It’s hard not to all of a sudden.
[00:30:58] I agree.
[00:30:58] Zach White: I agree. I think that’s a drop, drop the mic type of moment. You’re absolutely right. It,
[00:31:02] Greg Martin: it’s, it’s, it’s hard. I had to leave my job and, spend, tens of thousands of dollars to realize all this. But yeah. Um, yeah.
[00:31:10] Zach White: Well that’s the way happy engineer, if you’re listening to Greg right now, you don’t have to do that.
[00:31:14] You can take his word for it, so. Well, you know, and here I’ll relate it to this ’cause I, I absolutely agree. there are times when we do need to change our environment, go work for a new company, get into a new job, get into a better culture. Absolutely. External changes can be. Super important to your life’s work trajectory, but I love that you said, start first with asking the question, how do you need to shift and change and learn how to adapt to create joy and happiness with what is around you?
[00:31:42] And I relate it to exercise. Greg, it’s like somebody’s mission. Is to lose 10 pounds. And so their first thing they want to do is go for runs. And after their first or second run they say, oh, this hurts. I don’t like running. It creates pain in my body. It’s very uncomfortable to do so I’m gonna stop running.
[00:32:01] It’s like, okay, well you can stop running, but then you’re gonna get on an elliptical machine. And guess what? That also is painful and hurts. And it like exercise by definition is going to make you sweat and be painful and make you sore. Sometimes people I think just have this imagination that if I just change jobs, all, all of it’s gonna go away.
[00:32:21] All the pain’s gonna go away. There won’t be any more things to complain about. Grass is greener type of mindset. And, and the fact is, yes, some companies have a culture that’s extremely toxic or some career paths are gonna be 14 hour days. And those are obvious things, but a lot of times, Those situations and those bosses and those things that are annoying, you are gonna show up in your next job as well.
[00:32:43] And if you don’t learn how to shift yourself, then you might as well get off the treadmill. ’cause it’s not gonna ever feel. Delightful to exercise, but when you get off the treadmill after a long run and those endorphins are juicing and you’re losing that weight and it, that’s when it feels so good.
[00:32:59] So anyway. Amazing. Well, Greg, really quick, tell us where can we find you, your podcast, all of this amazing work. If someone wants to connect with what you’re doing, what’s the best place to find you? the website is
[00:33:11] Greg Martin: [email protected]. you can find it there, but you can also just search for it on your favorite, podcast platform.
[00:33:17] I think I’m on all of them. but yeah, it’s just lifetime at work and, that’s the best way. LinkedIn is probably the best place to follow social media, but honestly just, it’s all about the podcast. I think ultimately, and you can hear the story and the story of people I, uh, I I chat with on there.
[00:33:31] Zach White: Awesome. So happy engineer, wherever you’re listening to this, just push pause, go search lifetime at work, give Greg a follow and tune in. I think you’ll love those conversations. And one of them with me, if you want to hear me on the other side of the mic, go check that out. Greg, thank you so much for being here I always end in the same place and excited, especially for you having had so many of these conversations now for your perspective, but great engineering.
[00:33:58] I’m sure a great investment banking, great coaching. It all has in common that the questions lead and the answers follow. And so if we want better answers, we need to start asking better questions. So if the happy engineer out there wants to experience, better balance and a better work life and really feel engaged with what they’re doing in their career, what would be the question that you would lead them with today?
[00:34:27] Greg Martin: when you’re at that party and someone asks you, what do you do, really that question you need to ask yourself is, who are you? who do you wanna be?
[00:34:37] Zach White: I love it. Who are you? Spend some time with that, Greg. Can’t thank you enough.
[00:34:44] This has been amazing and I will be tuning in to Lifetime at Work. Really great stuff that you’re putting out, and we’ll hope to see you again soon. We’ll have to do this again sometime. Awesome. Thanks
[00:34:53] Greg Martin: having me, Zach.