The Happy Engineer Podcast

139: Unstoppable Resilience – True Grit and Grace with Amberly Lago

How do you become resilient as an engineering leader? What is TRUE grit and grace? When everything around you points to failure, how can engineering managers keep going and choose success?

In this episode, prepare to see a miracle with a woman who has changed the world with her story, Amberly Lago.

At age 38, Amberly Lago’s life was turned upside down. Hit by a SUV while riding her motorcycle, 34 surgeries to save her leg from amputation and diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome dubbed “the suicide disease,” she knows about how to strengthen resilience because she has lived it.

Sometimes we need a shot of encouragement right in the arm, and this conversation will do it.

When you have unstoppable resilience, you don’t just change your life. You can change the world.

Amberly has been on the cover of Forbes magazine and USA Today. She’s shared the stage with Mel Robbins, Jay Shetty, Lewis Howes, Brendon Burchard, Sharon Lechter, Ed Mylett and countless others.

She offers hope and solutions for anyone feeling stuck, and I can honestly say this episode is one I’ll NEVER forget.

So press play and let’s chat… true grit and grace is available for your situation too

Join us in a live workshop for deeper training, career coaching 1:1, and an amazing community!  HAPPY HOUR Workshop Live with Zach!


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Previous Episode 138: Stop Stagnation and Grow Faster | Peak Performance Multiplier


Unstoppable Resilience – True Grit and Grace

In this episode of the podcast, Amberly Lago shared her story of resilience, healing, and finding purpose. It was such an inspiring conversation!

Here are the top three insights:

1. Grit and Grace: True success lies in the combination of resilience and compassion. We must have the mental and emotional strength to overcome challenges, but also extend grace to ourselves and others along the way. It’s about finding the courage to keep moving forward, even when life throws curveballs.

2. The Power of Community: Surrounding ourselves with a supportive community is crucial for growth, healing, and success. Whether it’s mentors, coaches, friends, or even online networks, connecting with like-minded individuals who uplift and encourage us can make all the difference.

3. Asking Better Questions: In order to achieve personal and professional growth, we must be honest with ourselves and ask the tough questions. Take a step back and evaluate if your current actions and mindset are aligned with your goals. Don’t be afraid to probe deeper and challenge yourself. Ask, “How’s that working for you?” and make the necessary adjustments.

To go deeper and build an action plan around these points and why all this matters, click the podcast above and listen to the entire conversation.



Amberly’s life story of astounding resilience has inspired a revolutionary lesson she offers to the world. She brings unique strategies developed to teach others how to tap into their superpower of resilience and persevere through any challenge. She is a powerhouse of energy on stage with a story that will engage and captivate any audience. Her keynote speeches, best-selling book, workshops, and podcasts offer hope and solutions for living life at its fullest to those in chronic pain (like her) and those who find themselves struggling against any obstacle.



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

[00:00:00] Zach White: Happy engineer. You are going to be glad you’re here today. And Amberley, I am so looking forward to this conversation. I told you before we hit record preparing for this was my absolute. Favorite so far, but don’t tell any of my other guests. I said that welcome to the happy engineer podcast. I’m so glad to have you on the show.

[00:00:22] Amberly Lago: Zach, thank you so much. Seriously. This is the highlight of my day. I love when I get to see you and I love your show and I’m so grateful for you. And you know, I got to interview you on my podcast and was telling you before we recorded, I was like. I need, I was like, selfishly, I needed to learn from you and hear all your expertise like, and I was like, Oh no, it’s for the guests, it’s for the guests, but I’m like, it was really for me.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:51] You’re amazing. And I tell you that every time we get to talk, but, but you are, and I can understand why people love your show. It’s because. You offer so much value. So it’s my intention to offer as much value to your amazing audience today as possible. 

[00:01:11] Zach White: Well, thank you for that. I receive it. I appreciate that.

[00:01:14] And it is true for you as well. Amberley, it is so hard to pick a single point in your journey. That is the obvious starting point for today’s conversation, because the wealth of experiences and what you’ve overcome in your own story is tremendous, and we could pick any point and spend hours just extrapolating the wisdom and the learning and the encouragement from it.

[00:01:42] But I think it’s important today To really set the arc of this story somewhat from the beginning and growing up who you were and how your life changed so dramatically at this midpoint around age 38, if I’m not mistaken, but tell us first, who were you before the accident and what was going on in your life at that time, how you identified yourself, what you were doing, just set the stage for us of where you were before 

[00:02:12] Amberly Lago: that.

[00:02:13] Well, I was always a goal getter. I was so in fact, you know what? This morning, my youngest daughter and I went to the orthodontist. We both need braces again, by the way. So that’s going to be hilarious. 26 years and her best friend worked for the orthodontist and they all knew each other.

[00:02:33] And I walked in and I got to see her and I was like, yeah, Oh my gosh, I can’t, I’m so excited to see you. And she goes, yep. Well, and she looked at the doctor and said, this girl, she just, she had her mind set and she packed up her bags and left in her Jeep and drove to California and made something of herself.

[00:02:54] I said, yeah, people didn’t believe I’d ever do it or make anything. And they thought I’d be back in a couple of days or maybe a couple of weeks. I said, and it’s 31 years. And, I finally did come back to Texas, but I had a successful career and, the dance industry and the fitness industry. So I was always very, I just.

[00:03:15] I came from a family where there was a lot of dysfunction, addiction. And I thought I am never going to be like that. I want to make something of myself. I’m getting out of this town. and so, yeah, I moved California and I was had was sponsored by Nike, doing infomercials with Body by Jake.

[00:03:37] That was fun. He is hilarious. We had a blast. I was a, contributor to. I’m doing articles for Shape Magazine and Fit Pregnancy and had a very successful training business that I built from the ground up and that started as a single mom and 

[00:03:55] Zach White: so I learned In the toughest place on earth to do it too.

[00:03:58] I mean, Los Angeles, California. Not that there’s anyone else in LA competing for attention for dance, fitness and beauty. Oh my goodness. Yeah. Tell me this. The goal getter part of you. And you mentioned the dysfunction of the family and how you got this sense that like, I’m not going to go down this path, I’m going to do it different, and that sets you on the path.

[00:04:23] What is your thought about people who don’t have that push. So here’s where that’s coming from. You know, I grew up in a relatively, you know, picture perfect kind of situation by most accounts, right? I mean, yeah. The worst thing that happened to me is my parents divorced when I was 13, and yes, there was a real wound, but all things considered.

[00:04:44] not the end of the world. And I have testimony envy sometimes of people who’s like, you know, they, they have this really tough situation and they come out of it and there’s that push. But a lot of people don’t have that and they don’t get sort of imprinted with this hunger and desire. And so I’m curious from your perspective now and everything you’ve gone through, how does someone who comes from a, you know, good, good upbringing.

[00:05:13] There is no, I need to get away from this kind of push. Can they become the same sort of goal getters and achievers and driven people like what you experienced? Or is there something about that? environment that really shapes you know, 

[00:05:27] Amberly Lago: absolutely, absolutely. That’s such a great question, Zach. And, it’s amazing how different even my brothers are for me and to be completely transparent.

[00:05:39] One of my brothers well, he didn’t have the push in the right direction. I don’t think he didn’t have the right outlets and he sits on death row here in Texas. my other brother really struggles. In and out of jail. And it’s we were raised exactly the same. I think the difference is think you have to decide.

[00:06:01] You have to decide. And I think it’s really important. and I think resilient people know what to focus on. And I knew. That when I focused on the good things, the good things got better. And I focused on doing things that made me feel good and empowered and joyful. And so I had an outlet of athletics. I had an outlet of dance and.

[00:06:29] Thank God I had, you know, an amazing dance instructor and an amazing track coach. At the time, I didn’t see it as much like that. I saw them as like drill sergeants and why are they picking on me and why are they being so hard of me on me? But thank God for them, because my track coach, she taught me to push harder and keep going.

[00:06:52] I mean, let me tell you, she would have me sit at the front of the bus next to her every track meet and say, Amberley, we are depending on you to get us to district. You have got to get but

[00:07:09] Also, what helped me through those moments is, you know, I grew up in Texas in the Bible belt. everybody went to church. You did not miss going to church where I felt the most connected to God was actually on the track out in nature. And when I was on the track, I was a miler, so I ran the half mile, one mile, two mile.

[00:07:31] Tough distances. kind of liked it. I actually set a record in the state of Texas for running the fastest mile. But what it was is on that track, I had great training from a coach and I think it’s so important to have a great coach, a great mentor, somebody in your life and you got to find it.

[00:07:54] I didn’t have that necessary. Look, my mom was doing the best she could, but she was so stressed out and worked all the time. My dad was, I had asked help And he wasn’t capable. And we’ve, healed a lot of that now, but he just wasn’t capable of protecting me from the sexual abuse that was going on with my stepfather or anything else.

[00:08:18] He had his own trauma. And I thought, well, it’s up to me to choose. The right thing to feel better, to do things that empower me, and it was on that track where I had a great mentor, my great coach, and I prayed every time every lap around that track is when I talk to God. I didn’t call it praying. I was just talking to God.

[00:08:41] And then when I would get first place, it made me feel better. So good. And I thought, well, I want to feel good. So if I work hard, I can achieve things that make me feel good. So I became a straight a student honor roll student. I was the choreographer for the drill team, for the cheerleaders, for the drama club, I graduated.

[00:09:09] Actually, this is crazy. the principal called my mom and said, Amberlee one, every category. For class favorite, most likely to succeed most school spirit, miss GHS. She can only have four. You let her pick which four does she want? I’m not saying that to brag on myself. I’m saying it because if I came from such.

[00:09:37] a dark place. And let me tell you, my senior year, my hair was falling out. I was stressed out. I got kicked out of my dad’s house. I couldn’t live with my mom because my stepdad was abusive. I ended up living with a friend despite all of that stuff. Oh my goodness. I focused on doing what I could and I always say, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.

[00:10:02] And I was like, I have a goal and I think it’s real important to have a goal or a purpose or figure out what is your why. And I knew I was like, I’m saving money. I’m graduating with honors and I’m getting the hell out of here and I’m going to make something out of my life. 

[00:10:21] Zach White: This is amazing. Amberley. I. I.

[00:10:24] I. It’s impressed upon me how powerful it is to not let the circumstances we’ve been finding ourselves in define what’s possible for our future. And it’d be so easy to say you had everything going against you and yet you made that choice and what a foundation for what would come later in life. But I just feel like we’re without excuse, you know, like all of us engineers out here, we’re building careers.

[00:10:58] There’s so many things we want to point to that are not working for us. You know, this boss who’s toxic or this culture at the company or this person who doesn’t like me or my race or my gender or my whatever. And it’s like, I hear your story. It’s like, okay, you know what? I am without excuse. To make a choice of what I will focus on right here, right now, and hearing you talk about first place.

[00:11:23] just am curious. Is there a is there a particular race that you really remember the finish line where that first place meant more than any other race? 

[00:11:32] Amberly Lago: yeah, actually, it was at our district meet. and first of all, getting in track, I only got in track because I needed, a credit for athletics or something.

[00:11:43] And I got in later and you had to audition, like try out for the track team and they had all had been conditioning. And I was like, well, crap, here we go. Let me try out for this. And I’m running and I’ll never forget. one of my friends, Jennifer, her name was Jennifer Jaco. One of her, she ran up next to me and she goes, man, this is hard.

[00:12:07] Let’s just quit. And I said, I’m not quitting. And I kept running and I made the team and I wasn’t the fastest, but I knew if I kept. conditioning myself if I kept trying that I could be. And then it got to the point where I was the fastest. And I never forget this one girl, Lillian, that was on the track team.

[00:12:31] She would actually come up beside me and try to push me off the track. And people would get annoyed with me because I would go up and be running even at track meets and be like, Hey, I’m Amberley. How’s it going? How you feeling? and talk. Cause you’re on the track for like, 13 minutes while in the two mile, 12 minutes, 13 minutes.

[00:12:53] they would get so annoyed with me, but I was just like, Hey, we’re in this together, but I’m going to keep going. I’m going to win. No, I’m going to beat you, but I’m going to beat you. But there was our district meet and I had. One race between I had just gotten first place in the one mile and I had one race before I had to compete for the two mile and you know, you’re, you’re done, you’re trying to refuel yourself.

[00:13:22] Uh, your adrenaline goes way up. My adrenaline would go way up before they’d like, shoot the gun and then you just run. And so I was trying to like, get my energy back. And I had one, race in between that and the two mile and I ran the two mile and won it too. And it just shows that, you know what, it’s so much about your mindset and it’s so much about what you believe.

[00:13:47] That you are possible and capable of achieving. when you were talking earlier about, you know, you’re like, as engineers, you know, we can all go, oh, well, this person at work or they did this to me or whatever it is, it’s so easy to point your finger at other people, but I have found what is so freeing to me.

[00:14:09] Is when I just look at myself and learn from each experience. Well, and how can I improve myself? And then also a recent conversation with my dad, who was just really caught up in something that happened, a comment that was made like 7 years ago. I’m like, dad, you got to let it go. Forgiveness is freedom. Like forgiveness is freedom. You got to let that go and about focusing on the right thing. I remember, another thing is, um, I had a, friend of mine say, well, weren’t you angry at. The person who, because I was in a horrible accident, hit by an SUV while riding my motorcycle and the person’s like, well, weren’t you so angry at the guy that hit you?

[00:15:01] And I was like, no, I wasn’t. So, well, no, people are going to think you’re crazy if you weren’t mad at him in the hospital. And I was like, in the hospital, I knew that I was not going to focus my attention on anger and resentment. And bitterness. I was like, I focused on everything I could do in that moment to heal, to get better, to keep my business going.

[00:15:26] I wasn’t focused on anger. Actually, the first thing I did when I got out of a coma and I haven’t shared this very much. The very first thing I did when I got out of a coma was I asked for my phone and I was actually on my phone being willed to a different room calling clients saying, Hey, okay. Yeah, I’m in ICU right now, but you know what, when I get a third quarter, we’re going to finish strong.

[00:15:52] I’m going to get out here. We’re going to finish strong. Like reassuring them, saving my business was just as important to me as saving 

[00:16:04] Zach White: time for bitterness and resentment and anger. I got to work to do. Okay. Let’s back up. Amberley, when did you get your first motorcycle? Oh, gosh. 

[00:16:13] Amberly Lago: Well, I grew up on dirt bikes.

[00:16:16] Okay. My first, mode of transportation was a motorcycle. Okay, so your 

[00:16:21] Zach White: whole life you’ve 

[00:16:22] Amberly Lago: been on two wheels. Yep. I got my first Harley. I remember I was, uh, hanging out with this big, you know, LA producer and his roommate was Dean Cain and they were just, they had their Harleys and they were so cool.

[00:16:39] he was like, won’t you meet us? And you can jump on the back of my bike. And I was like, I showed up with my own motorcycle, my own Harley. And he was like, dang. And I’m like, no, I don’t get 

[00:16:51] Zach White: on the back. Yeah. Forget the back brother. I’ve been on the front since I was young. Oh man. Yes. And 

[00:16:57] Amberly Lago: then I had my second one before it was 

[00:16:59] Zach White: totaled.

[00:17:00] My wife and I. We have three bikes between the two of us and she rode before me She would absolutely want me to make this clear that when we started dating there were two non negotiables Amberley number one Was horses if I didn’t want to own horses ride horses and love horses, then don’t date this girl and number two I didn’t know that.

[00:17:22] Yeah, my wife, Johanna, she’s a horse girl her whole life, and she rode motorcycles and had her motorcycle license before I had mine. She is my kind of girl. And she said, horses, motorcycles, non negotiable. 

[00:17:36] Amberly Lago: And they’re the two most dangerous things, and they’re the two things that we have. We’ve got a thoroughbred.

[00:17:45] competitor horse that my daughter jumps scarier than anything. But yeah, so we’re a horse family, motorcycle family. I get it. 

[00:17:55] Zach White: We’re going to have to come down and hang out sometime. Yeah, I hope you do. Okay. We’ll make it happen. anyway, where I was going there, we got a Harley, her grandfather rebuilt it.

[00:18:04] And it’s incredible, you know, everywhere it can be Chrome, it is Chrome. And that first Harley, that’s a special, that’s a special day. So, you got your motorcycles, you’re in L. A. You’ve got this successful business that you worked so hard to build life is on the up and up tell us what happened. I mean, you alluded to it a moment ago, major accident.

[00:18:25] Like what, what actually happened? 

[00:18:28] Amberly Lago: I was on my way home from work. It was Friday and it was Memorial Day weekend. So. I had just ran 11 miles in my fastest time ever and beat my workout partner for the first time. He was not happy about that, but I was just feeling like I was feeling on top of the world, you know?

[00:18:47] And I remember actually, this is so crazy, Zach. I was getting on my bike and my friend Tina, who I have, I’m calling her when I leave here. I’m on the way to the airport and I have an appointment to call her. I haven’t talked to her in forever. Tina looks at me and she goes, be careful. And I said, don’t worry.

[00:19:08] I will. And I put my helmet on and I start driving down and it’s just a beautiful California day. You know, it’s just. Freedom when you’re on a motorcycle, you know, the wind blowing through your hair. It’s just, it feels like freedom and it puts you right in the moment and you’re very aware of all your surroundings.

[00:19:24] And I look and I see this guy coming out of a, well, he stopped about to come out of a parking lot and I’m like, okay, he sees me and I’m like, Oh my gosh, he does not see me. He’s going for it. I don’t know if he was trying to beat me. I have no idea. I think he was trying to beat me. Out to make a left turn.

[00:19:44] So he shot it out of the parking lot. So it wasn’t just like a boop. Let me just make a left turn. It was like, bam, I’m T boned thrown 30 feet and I was sliding across Ventura Boulevard. And when I finally came to a stop, man, I looked down at my leg and it was just crumbled into pieces. There was blood everywhere.

[00:20:05] my femoral artery was severed and luckily there was a guy that came over and he was a guardian angel because people weren’t coming up to me. They were looking at me. There was one lady that fainted on the scene. They were looking at me like, uh, It looks bad. You know, they didn’t want to come up close to me.

[00:20:25] It was that bad and that bloody. And this guy luckily came over, ripped his belt off and he made a tourniquet around my leg. Saved your life. He saved my life. The paramedics talk about. Being in the right place, the paramedics heard the accident. They were at the coffee bean down the street. They started running towards me before they even got the call.

[00:20:49] Luckily, I was rushed to the hospital right away. but my, you know, vitals were failing. They couldn’t control my pain. I had lost so much blood. I was dying and they put me in induced coma. when I woke up from a coma, the first thing I learned was they said, we’re so sorry. there’s nothing we can do for you.

[00:21:12] you’ve got a 1 percent chance of saving your leg. So we need to amputate it. And in that moment, I was like, my gosh, they just said, I have a chance. I got a chance, man. I was like, you just said 1 percent chance. That means there’s a chance. And we need to find a doctor who’s willing to take that chance with me.

[00:21:32] And my husband signed all these, release papers, like the doctor there could not touch me, right? thank God for my husband. Actually, they were going to go ahead and amputate it when I was in a coma. And he was like, Nope. I want her to wake up with both of her legs. That’s her decision. and he reminds me a lot.

[00:21:52] He’s like, you have two legs because of me. 

[00:21:58] Zach White: Okay. Character. We have so much to dig into here, but that’s so classic for a husband. My, my wife is going to love you so much because one of the things that I do with her, she’s a brilliant. Designer for brands she does brand identity design and graphic design for companies and she’s so skilled, but every now and then she’ll bring ideas to me and just say, Hey, I’m thinking here’s, here’s a logo concept.

[00:22:22] And what do you, you know, this is what I’m going for. I’m not sure it’s right yet. A couple times, Amberley, I’ve had an idea that she ended up using. And I always take full credit for the whole logo. I’m like, yeah, yeah, I, I did that one. It’s all me. And she just, she’s like, whatever. She spends three months working on a project.

[00:22:43] I spent three minutes and, but it was my idea, you know, anyway. Oh my gosh. Okay. I probably go into humor here because at the end of the day, truthfully, I’m really this. This story brings me to tears. I, I literally, I told you this before we hit record. I cried multiple times preparing for this interview because it’s so scary.

[00:23:03] It’s so moving. you stared a 99 percent chance of failure in the face and said, No, I’m going to choose to focus on the 1 percent when most people don’t have the courage to do that. And I look at the things I’m facing right now and I don’t know what percentage chance it is, but it sure feels like 99 percent chance of failure sometimes.

[00:23:26] And it’s hard to wake up and choose that 1 percent again and again and again. And, you know, it’s not my life on the line. we could literally just stop the recording and be done and like, I’m already moved. Like, this is amazing, but we’re not going to do that because I want to know more about this.

[00:23:44] So how long were you in the induced coma? 

[00:23:48] Amberly Lago: a little over a week, a little over a week. And when you wake up, it’s so crazy. So you wake up and you feel like they put Vaseline on your eyes and. you have tubes in your throat and stuff. So I woke up trying to rip the tubes out. I woke up fighting like crazy.

[00:24:07] And the nurse was like, no, no, dear, don’t, don’t do that. Don’t take the tubes out. And they’re like, I think she’s trying to say something, get her a pen and a paper and they come over and I’m, scribbling cause you’re still kind of drugged up and loopy. But it’s crazy that I woke up fighting. Like I woke up get me out of here.

[00:24:28] What the heck is going on? And I wrote on the paper, the first thing I wrote was don’t tell Savannah, which my oldest daughter was on our eighth grade school trip. And I had no idea that she already knew. Then the next thing I wrote was, I was like, I can’t breathe. I wrote, get off my tubes. My husband was so excited that I was awake.

[00:24:52] He was leaning over the bed. Leaning against the tubes, cutting the air supply off, I can’t breathe, get off my tubes. He’s so sweet and he’s got tears in his eyes and he’s been there every single day. They had to make him go home just change clothes or rest. And that’s the first thing I say, not like, get off my tubes.

[00:25:18] You know, it was crazy. Then I saw my mom and I was like, Oh my goodness, my mom flew from Texas. This must be pretty serious. If she took off work to be here, what is going on? and then that’s when I learned about them wanting to amputate the leg. And, you know, I think being an underdog, a lot of my life, helped me.

[00:25:43] Because it taught me grit. not being the smartest. I mean, actually in school, this is before they did diagnosis with OCD or ADHD or any of that. Yeah. I was diagnosed later as an adult with ADD. And in school, I was getting in trouble. They put me in the the class for the dummies is what they called it.

[00:26:10] Well, they called it worse things than that, but that’s the class they moved me in and I still was not doing well. then they tested me in eighth grade and said, Oh, holy crap. Man, she’s talented and gifted and they put me in the talented and gifted program, but you learn so much from the time you’re one to seven and in the values and your self worth and how you see yourself.

[00:26:33] And so I really viewed myself as I’m not smart. I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy. I need to be in a special class, but for people with disabilities or learn, it was terrible the things I’d tell myself. And so I started saying, well, I’m just going to have to work harder to be smarter. I think things like that can help you.

[00:26:55] You don’t understand when you’re going through a challenge like that at the time that it can actually help you in the future because it’s teaching you how to work hard, how to have resiliency, how to develop your grit, how to keep going no matter what that you get to choose. Who you are, your circumstances don’t define you, you are a product of your resiliency.

[00:27:22] Zach White: You are a product of your resiliency. So the doctors told you the leg needs to go. You said, I’ll take my 1 percent please. And I remember reading, I may not get these all right, correct me if I’m off, off on this, but 30 something surgeries and millions of dollars in procedures later. Yeah. And a whole lot of faith, grace, and resilience from you.

[00:27:51] And you walk today, marvelously, and are a standing example of that. if you had to take that whole journey from, Waking up from the coma to standing on the stage in front of tens of thousands and inspiring them with your story of healing. And resilience, if you had to boil that journey down to what mattered most, what is that for you?

[00:28:20] Amberly Lago: Such a great question, Zach, you’re so amazing. I tell you that every time we talk, but I love talking with you. That’s such a great question. And I think what matters most actually two things. It’s God. Having that’s contact, which I lost for a little while because I was numbing out, you know, the, the pain led to isolation, which led to addiction.

[00:28:47] And by the grace of God, I got sober in 2016, But the connection with God prayer gives me the courage and it gave me the courage to reach out for help. And I think that success in anything, whether it’s in your business, whether it’s in, your marriage, it all comes down to connection and relationships.

[00:29:13] And I think that is the most important thing that I’ve learned. through my journey, through my, healing journey, through my sobriety journey, through my entrepreneurial journey, it all comes down to connection and community. I mean, look, I told you this was the highlight of my day, getting to talk with you.

[00:29:36] And it’s cause look, it’s not always easy being an entrepreneur. I mean, I’m about to fly out. I got up early this morning, you know, being a mom, taking my daughter to school, talking to my other daughter on the phone, coaching a client, doing this, it can be stressful. It can be overwhelming. but I think that the minute that you can connect.

[00:29:59] On a deeper level, and you can have somebody say, I get it, man, me too. It’s like, Oh, you know, you’re not alone on the journey and man together we’re unstoppable. And so I think connection and community is the thing I’ve learned the most. And I learned, I saw that in the hospital, all the clients and friends and family that came in to see me.

[00:30:25] I needed my clients more than they needed me. They gave me purpose, but all that I had poured into them for years, it was like, they showed up for me in the hospital, brought me food, brought me, I mean, it was, and can I tell you one more little quick story? So, just. The importance of connection and community.

[00:30:47] So one thing that really helped me when is when I was at my darkest times in the hospital was like being of service and people were like, well, how could you be of service when you’re stuck in a hospital bed? And I was doing everything I could. I was writing nutrition plans for clients. I was, actually the nurses, I had a chair sitting next to my table and the nurses would come into my room and plop themselves down in that chair and just Poor to me and cry sometimes about their day or their challenges, and I would give them, suggestions and advice that, you know, just there for them, they would also come in once they, found out I was in the fitness industry, they’d say, Hey, so you’re, you’re a trainer.

[00:31:33] What are you doing? You got your own company. Well, well, what do I do to get a better booty? And I was giving him exercise tips. I mean, and so my room was like the hangout and I had my own little mini fridge with healthy food and stuff. So those nurses would come in and hang out with me and we built this little community there in the hospital.

[00:31:54] And, I was in ICU for two weeks. I didn’t get to see my youngest daughter and it crushed me. It was the first time I’d. Ever, ever been away from her and they couldn’t bring her in because I was an ICU and they said, well, I’ll tell you what, if you can get yourself up and get in a wheelchair, we can roll you out of here and you can go see her.

[00:32:15] But every time they tried to bring me up, my leg was held together with these metal rods. So it was like re breaking my leg all over again. And so my heart rate would just elevate, my blood pressure would drop, my vitals, the machine would start beeping. Mm hmm. And Zach, do you know what they did?

[00:32:32] These nurses did? They cleared the hall, and they made sure no doctors or security, nobody was around. And those nurses, they snuck my daughter in to see me.

[00:32:53] That’s community. 

[00:32:55] Zach White: Yeah, that’s amazing. 

[00:32:57] Amberly Lago: they, they snuck her in to see me. and I had this idea of… Her going, Mommy, and she was like, Oh, Mommy, boo boo. And I was like, Oh yeah, I guess I do look pretty rough. 

[00:33:13] Zach White: That’s scary when you’re a little kid to see some, a parent or someone you love.

[00:33:18] All wired up and tubes. 

[00:33:19] Amberly Lago: Yeah, well I bribed her with candy, bribery works, candy and fingernail polish that somebody had brought me in the hospital. That’s a good mom, that’s a good mom. I would paint her nails, I’d let her push all the buttons on the bed and the morphine drip or whatever it was and it would get me like, A little rugged up, but I was like, I didn’t care as long as she was in bed with me.

[00:33:47] I was like, just stay in bed with 

[00:33:48] Zach White: me. Thank you for sharing that. And well, 

[00:33:51] Amberly Lago: that’s the power of community, right? 

[00:33:55] Zach White: I think this is an area as technical leaders and engineers. We could really do well to lean heavily into. you were coaching someone like, you know, Zach 10 years ago, who maybe wasn’t as far along the journey of being on board with this idea of community as I am today, I think a lot of times because we’re so focused on ideas and things and problems and engineers love to live in the analytical and the logical mind and not so much on the emotional and the connection and the human side of things We get it.

[00:34:31] Like what you’re saying makes sense to me, but we don’t really get it. We’re not living it. We’re not tapped into that. And if you’re going to help somebody nudge towards the real power of community in your life, how would you encourage someone to do that? Well, 

[00:34:47] Amberly Lago: I get it because I, for years, showed no emotion.

[00:34:54] It was my defense of like not letting my stepfather get to me because he used to do things and then he would look at me and laugh and say, I knew I could make you cry. So for years I didn’t cry. I didn’t connect. I was like. I got this. I’m going to figure it out all on my own. I didn’t have any, help and in any way, like a lot of kids when they go off to college or they move, they’ve got their parents that go and they pick them out a dorm room or pay for the college, go buy.

[00:35:27] I was like, no, it was up to me. Like I was going to have to figure it out. And for a long time, I thought I, if I’m going to do this, I got to do it alone. I’m just going to do it by myself. And I showed no emotion. And one thing that got me more connected emotionally was I was running through DFW and I had missed my flight.

[00:35:48] I could see the plane backing up and I had my oldest daughter with me. She was little, she was little and I dropped all my bags and I just started crying. And she goes, mama, I didn’t know you knew how to cry. And it broke my heart because I thought, isn’t just a story I’ve created for myself.

[00:36:10] It’s a way of life I’ve created for my family. I gotta break that change. Like, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel. That’s how we connect. And so… it was after I got sober that I think I cried every single day, but I will tell you I used to get in the swimming pool to cry because I knew, well, they can’t see my tears.

[00:36:35] My family can’t see my tears. Nobody be able to tell if I’m in the pool. So it was a real tricky thing for me, and it wasn’t until I had completely isolated myself because I did not want people to see my pain. I didn’t want people to know I was struggling that my life got worse and worse and worse to the point where I, Didn’t want to continue living to be honest with you and what pulled me through that was I thought about my daughters and I prayed and I saw how important community is when I got sober because in recovery, I went into a room. And I was scared to death I heard these women sharing my story. It wasn’t exactly mine, but it was so similar to mine and they had a spark in their eye and a spring in their step and filled with faith and they were happy, joyous and free.

[00:37:34] And I was like, I want what they’ve got and I got in the middle and they loved me. And in fact, I get to see a bunch of these women tomorrow night, we’re going to a meeting together. I still see these women every week on zoom, and I still connect with a lot of them every single day because we practice, we have a gratitude practice that we do together.

[00:38:02] when I reinvented myself. I wrote my book, you know, started my podcast and started speaking on a lot of stages and doing a lot more coaching. I started out, I was kind of a lone wolf. I was kind of doing it alone, trying to figure it out. and I realized, gosh, you know what?

[00:38:19] We need more. People out there sharing their story, making a difference, sharing their message and, I know I can help other people do that because I have failed. I have fallen. I’ve messed up. I’ve wasted money. I’ve, and I know what works and what doesn’t work. And I love Connecting people. So that’s why I do what I do now, because I know the power of community.

[00:38:48] That’s why I hold in person events. Believe me, it is stressful putting on your own event and it costs a lot of money. Yeah. It’s like you pray that Yeah. You break even. I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the community. 

[00:39:07] Zach White: Yeah, I love that. Connect to God. Tap into your faith. Make that part of your journey.

[00:39:17] For courage. For help. Connect. Build meaningful relationships. Don’t be the lone wolf, the hero, and isolate. One of my other dear friends, Aaron Walker, I call him Big A. Big A says isolation is the enemy of excellence. And I like what you said, that isolation leads to addiction. I’m gonna add that to my, my keys of why it’s so important to avoid that.

[00:39:42] And be of service. Get into service. Amberley, I’ll tell you, I’ve seen that so true with the engineering leaders who I coach, you know, some people come to me, they’re on fire and it’s just, how do we. Help them continue to crush it in their career. Others are really burned out. They’re really struggling when we first connect.

[00:39:59] And I’ve seen it so often when someone will get outside of, woe is me and my burnout and my challenges and just do one little thing as an act of service to someone else, or they share a nugget of wisdom with someone else in our community here at the Oasis of Courage to help them in their career, and they see that person get a result.

[00:40:17] You might think, you know, here they’re getting results and I’m not. But it’s the opposite. Like it always lifts people up. When they’re in service and they see someone else take a step forward, which is why my favorite word in the English language is encouragement because you mentioned courage and my business is called the Oasis of Courage for a reason.

[00:40:38] I love that word because it just represents to me what is my purpose in life. How do I, through my actions and my presence, place courage into someone else to encourage them so that they have that spark or that Grit or that resilience to take the next step in their own journey. So it’s the best, 

[00:40:58] Amberly Lago: isn’t it?

[00:40:59] When you get to like, I, I love. when I can provide a stage for the people in my mastermind to get on stage and speak, I just got a message yesterday and one of my mastermind people is like, could you write me some praise for my book? And I’m like, Oh, your book is almost done.

[00:41:20] Another one who just launched her podcast to me And also as simple as some of the women they didn’t have the courage to even post on social. And now they have the courage to do that. But it’s not just for me. I think it’s from the community. we build each other up. You know what 

[00:41:41] Zach White: I mean?

[00:41:42] 100%. I really appreciate all three of these. And I hope in my own journey that I Double down on all three of these, my faith, connecting, and being of service, because I believe in it so much. Amberlee, last thing I want to get curious about, and then we’ll, we’ll land the plane and get you on a plane to go out to your event here.

[00:42:00] Oh, I know, 

[00:42:00] Amberly Lago: that Uber’s coming. 

[00:42:04] Zach White: Grit and grace. Grit and grace. have literally right now for those watching on YouTube, they see true grit and grace behind you in the neon lights. If you’re listening to the podcast, go check that out. But you are literally, sitting under the banner of true grit and grace.

[00:42:22] And I want to get. your perspective quickly. Just a minute. What is the distinction of true grit and grace versus where the world takes those two terms and spends them in a way that is not of service or is is a lie? You know, it’s not this true grit and grace is, is this what? What is that distinction for you?

[00:42:45] Why is it true? 

[00:42:46] Amberly Lago: Good sack. You are so good. Um, I love this question. Well, because this is where I messed up. I had a lot of misconceptions about grit. I was just like, I just got to work hard. I just got to hustle more. I just got to do more post more, be more like, go, go, go. And what I learned is I had it wrong.

[00:43:10] it was grit without connection is resistance. It is us clawing our way to the top. It is just feel like we’re walking through quicksand. We’re hitting roadblocks or even rock bottoms, but it’s grit with connection. That is where we find resilience. And what I’ve learned is, you know, it’s not all about the grit.

[00:43:37] We have to learn to give ourselves grace, which means listening to our body, honoring our body, getting enough rest, getting enough sleep instead of just go, go, go. But the grace also stands for really, it is by the grace of God that I get to be here with you. and so honored to be on your show.

[00:44:02] And so I think that grit and grace with connection and that’s connection to yourself and connection to your higher power. You may not call that God, but whatever, whoever your higher power is and connection to others is where we find true resilience. Amazing. 

[00:44:24] Zach White: Amberley, where can we find you and follow your incredible work?

[00:44:29] Connect to you, get your books, listen to the podcast, tell us where to go for every happy engineer who’s going to want more Amberley in their life after hearing this conversation. Oh, 

[00:44:39] Amberly Lago: thank you so much. You can find out, about all, well, my book. My podcast, which you are going to be get your, your episode is coming up soon.

[00:44:49] Y’all have to tune into Zach’s episode cause he was amazing. seriously, I’m, I’m serious. I just, I’m so grateful we connected, um, at Amberley logo. com and you can text me the word grit, just G R I T 2 8 1 8 2 If you want a free download, I’ve created a playbook that teaches you how to tap into your own superpower resilience and thrive.

[00:45:19] So if you’re like feeling tired or overwhelmed or anxious or depressed or just feeling stuck, text me the word grit and you will just get that free download and it’s me texting you back. So if you want to just say, Hey, I heard you on Zach’s show and. I want to be friends. That’s amazing. It’s my favorite thing to do to connect.

[00:45:41] So uh, 

[00:45:43] Zach White: just say the number one more time, Amberley. If someone wants to text you grit, what’s that 

[00:45:46] Amberly Lago: number? It’s 8 1 8. 214 7378 and then AmberleyLago. com you can find out about all my upcoming events. I have a new offer. I’m doing a something free that I’ve worked on for six months. Oh, it’s taken forever, but it’s almost ready and it’s something free to help people, really increase their influence impact so they can make a bigger income.

[00:46:15] And we talk. Yeah. Yeah. So you can find out more there too. So that, that will be that’s launching on Monday. Oh my goodness. Finally, after six 

[00:46:24] Zach White: months, that’s so good. So by the time you hear this happy engineer is already live and go check it out. So if you’re driving or working out, be safe, pause this, go into the show notes.

[00:46:34] All the links will be there. That phone number will be there. Please, please, please go connect with Amberley. You’re going to love, love what you see. I am serious when I say preparing for this conversation. Inspired me in so many ways, Amberley. I know we’re short on time. And I’m so appreciative of you. I just want to say thank you for sharing the gift of your presence with me and with the happy engineer out there, the place I always end, you will appreciate this as much as anyone as a coach.

[00:47:03] And as an inspiring, motivational speaker in our lives, questions lead, answers follow, and if we want better answers in our life. We want to ask better questions. what would be a question that you would lead the happy engineer with if they want better answers in their journey coming out of today’s conversation?

[00:47:26] Amberly Lago: Well, you know what really helped me and this is so simple, but I’m a simple kind of gal. I think that any transformation starts with really being radically honest with yourself and accepting where you are and who you are on your journey. And the one question that really helped me with that and changed my life was, how’s that working for you?

[00:47:55] And I know that’s so simple, but it’s like the things that we might do over and over. And it’s like, well, how’s that working for you to fill your whole day up with clients and not take a lunch break? How’s that working for you to be eating some Doritos? Is that helping your journey or hurting you? Is it moving you closer to your goal or further away?

[00:48:14] And so that’s a simple question to keep it really like, get real, get really honest with yourself because. when we’re honest with ourself is when we can start to take the right action steps with grit and move forward and be successful. 

[00:48:31] Zach White: Incredible. Take a look at your life. Don’t lie to yourself and ask, how’s that working for you?

[00:48:41] You got to say with a little Southern too for it to really take right? Yeah. There you go. Now we’re talking. Oh my goodness. Amberley, God bless you. I thank you so much for the time and I absolutely look forward to connecting 

[00:48:53] Amberly Lago: again soon. Thank you. I can’t wait. And you know what? You and your wife have to come see us.

[00:48:58] Zach White: Okay. I love Texas, so we’ll be there. Okay. Thank you. Fly safe. Thank 

[00:49:03] Amberly Lago: you.