The Happy Engineer Podcast

160: Build a Legacy You Can Be Proud Of with Shawn Dalcour & Keshia Robinson

Embracing the belief that nothing is impossible is key to building a lasting legacy you can be proud of.  Everyone in engineering leadership needs to be reminded and encouraged to act as if we believe it.

In this episode, meet an amazing father-daughter duo, Shawn Dalcour and Keshia Robinson.

If you have ever felt stuck, stagnant, uncertain, or afraid to take that next step in your career, you must hear what Shawn and Keshia brought to our conversation today.

Shawn went from the projects of Chicago, growing up in a neighborhood where the life expectancy was only 30 years old… to arguably the most successful project leader I’ve had on this podcast!

He earned an engineering degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and built his engineering career on elite teams at places like IBM, Oracle, Adobe, and Verizon, where he is currently responsible for $1.3 billion in revenue as Global Technology Alliance Manager, Partner Business Development & Innovation Leader.

His daughter Keshia has her own amazing journey, currently serving as Director of Operations for the National Society of Black Engineers. She has witnessed first hand the power of her father going from tragedy to triumph, and is giving back to the community of engineering leaders as part of that legacy.

So press play and let’s chat…because nothing was impossible for Shawn, and nothing is impossible for you!

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


The Happy Engineer Podcast

WATCH EPISODE 160: Build a Legacy You Can Be Proud Of with Shawn Dalcour & Keshia Robinson



LISTEN TO EPISODE 160: Build a Legacy You Can Be Proud Of with Shawn Dalcour & Keshia Robinson

Previous Episode 159: Who Else Wants More Energy at Work?


The Top 3 Principles for Building a Legacy in Engineering Leadership

In the latest episode of The Happy Engineer Podcast, our guests shared powerful stories of overcoming tragedy, finding inspiration, and making a lasting impact in the field of engineering and beyond. Here are the key takeaways:

1. Resilience and Support: We discussed the importance of seeking support from those who have faced similar battles and the value of faith and belief in overcoming challenges.

2. Generational Impact: Passing down knowledge to the next generation fosters emotional connections and personal growth.

3. Bravery and Personal Growth: It’s about summoning the courage to take decisive actions and embracing opportunities for personal growth, even when they might seem daunting or unfamiliar.

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


Shawn Dalcour boasts over 30 years of experience at IBM, Oracle, Adobe, and currently Verizon, leading a global team. Specializing in Relationship Building, Cloud Computing, and Strategic Alliances, Shawn is dedicated to working smarter in technology. Based in Chicago, he is active in his church and fraternity.

Keshia Robinson, Director of Operations and Events at NSBE, brings over 15 years of hospitality experience. Passionate about diversity and inclusion, Keshia leads inclusive events empowering Black engineers while mentoring a cross-functional team.



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 so glad you came back today and joining me is the amazing Sean Delcor. Sean, welcome to the show. Thanks for making time for this. 

[00:00:12] Shawn Dalcour: Zach, I am extremely excited. Thank you for the opportunity. This is going to be fun.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:17] Zach White: And a rare gift today, Sean, you’re not here alone.

[00:00:22] Not at all. We have on the call as well, Keisha is here. This is your unbelievably, probably even more amazing in every way than you can bring today. Your daughter Keisha is here. Keisha, thanks for joining us. This is amazing. 

[00:00:35] Keshia Robinson: Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to be a part of this. 

[00:00:39] Zach White: thank you.

[00:00:40] Welcome to you both. And Sean, before we hit record today. You started into a story and I cut you off and I said, hold on, we need to share starting from right here. and the way you framed it was really powerful. It’s like, it all begins in triumph over tragedy, triumph out of tragedy. would you just pick up that moment?

[00:01:03] What was going on? Where are you in life? And how did that unfold? Wow, 

[00:01:08] Shawn Dalcour: Zach. Thank you. I am number seven out of nine Children, six girls and three boys. family. My mom and dad. Both are from the South that Louisiana, my mom, Mississippi, and they came as part of that great northern migration for african americans to find work in the north.

[00:01:31] and again, great catholic family. I’m number seven and we grew up in a very, very depressed, area in Chicago. if you made it to be 30 years old in my neighborhood, that was an achievement. even if you had no goals or you may have probably been strung out or whatever it is, you have some challenges, but you at least made it to 30.

[00:01:56] my oldest brother, my father’s namesake, my father’s junior, made it to four days prior to being 30, Soma stuck a knife in his heart, about four inches in his heart. and we happened to get news and see him lying on the ground. And I was. 15, uh, six weeks from being 16.

[00:02:15] And, um, that, that was crucial. That changed everything for me. I have been around death all my life since people shot and stabbed and killed. And that type of thing, we thought Zach happened in other people’s family, not in our family. And when it happened, it was an eye opener for me to say, what can I do to not?

[00:02:37] hopefully end up this type of way and the only thing I knew, which is what my parents had instilled in all nine of us is education. So my, my role from that got more serious in terms of what I want to do in my life and what I want to do post high 

[00:02:58] Zach White: school. So Sean, let me make sure I’m tracking. This is a, this is a heavy story.

[00:03:02] This was your uncle. She’s my 

[00:03:05] Shawn Dalcour: brother. My brother. Brother. My brother. My brother. My 

[00:03:07] Zach White: brother brother with dad’s namesake. Okay. And, and how old one of the nine? Okay. My goodness. And you said he was almost 30. 

[00:03:17] Shawn Dalcour: You four days before being 30 wife with four children, two boys and two girls had to be raised without their, their dad.

[00:03:25] And he was my role model. He was a guy who was really intelligent, very charismatic. and that was really a blow to us. And, and the thing is, you know, I have even deeper respect for my dad and my dad was working. 13 jobs right to try to make ends meet with nine kids. And he is the one who found him on his way home one night from work, lying on the ground in the snow in 

[00:03:50] Zach White: Chicago.

[00:03:51] Where were you when you found out? Were you at school, at home? What was going 

[00:03:56] Shawn Dalcour: on? This was around 11pm at night. I was 10. 30 at night. I was in the kitchen table. we, all nine of us, and my parents at one time, we were in a three bedroom apartment, probably. 500 square feet. If the apartment was that big, actually, um, I remember several times we have to stand in the hallway because of gunfire that the guns wouldn’t get in.

[00:04:21] And, you know, we on the seventh floor and the elevator never worked in that type of thing. but we kept trugging along. So I was, I was doing homework and word got back to me and I, Put on some, uh, some shoes and went downstairs in the snow and I saw the police, grabbing him one by his leg, the other by his arm, and just throw him in the back of, I don’t know if they still have these things nowadays, but they’re called police paddy wagons because they knew that he was dead at that point.

[00:04:51] Zach White: Sean, I’ve never had an experience like that, but this story has triumph on the other end, was that something that didn’t make itself known to you for quite some time? Or if you think back to those moments, was there a part of you that awakened to what this meant for your future immediately?

[00:05:14] You mentioned this kind of sense of, I will not continue down this path. Something different is in store for me and I’m going to make sure that happens. Was that a thought that entered your mind quickly? Or was there a period of just. maybe darkness or depression that followed that before you became aware of that intention and a new trajectory began for you.

[00:05:36] I’m just, what was that like? 

[00:05:38] Shawn Dalcour: It was immediate for me. and the C’s already been planted. my parents were, you know, again, huge in education. They worked hard. My dad had a third grade education. My mom did have a 12th grade education. but they believe in Catholic schools because the schools in our neighborhood, the public schools were not up to par.

[00:05:56] we were four or five, six, seven volumes behind and, books and those things from a public school perspective. And my dad really believed in Catholicism and that type of education. So he worked double shift, triple shifts, to keep food on the table and, and, and, uh, sent all nine of us to Catholic grammar schools and Catholic high schools.

[00:06:18] And even during the summers, he would go in, as a job cleanup. to schools during summer break to pay for the tuition that we owed prior to that, that we couldn’t pay just to get us ready to go back in the fall. so when that happened, it was immediate and if I could share this real quickly to that, it was my love for my, my parents to see them go through that type of pay, yes, was, uh, really devastating.

[00:06:49] To me, in particular, in particular, my mother for my father to have to come up to the house and tell my mother that their firstborn child, that the person who made them parents had been killed like that. That was, that was devastating. I remember Keisha have heard this story before about our grandfather, but I remember it took us at least three days, if not more, for my father to wash his hands because he has a remnants of my brother’s blood on his hand.

[00:07:22] because that’s all he had left of his oldest child. So he didn’t, and it really gave me a great, analogy and I’m sorry, forgive me, but it gave me a great analogy for how much, God loves us. And what Jesus did. Right. Because God saw his only son shed blood. And I remember in my dad who would say he would, he didn’t want to wash his hands.

[00:07:50] Zach White: You don’t need to apologize for that, Sean. I really, I want to thank you for just being so open about that story. I mean, it kind of, I feel myself pushing back tears, just the impact of that. And if someone. Is going through or, or has experienced a moment like that, what would be your word for them? What would you say, having come through something like that and taking tragedy as a, a moment of inflection toward triumph?

[00:08:22] What encouragement would you have for somebody if, if maybe there’s a real tragedy in their life right now? 

[00:08:31] Shawn Dalcour: I love the way you poised the question and I’m gonna steal my answer from you. The way you pose the question and that is it is a moment and let’s not define our lives because of the moment that we happen to have found ourselves in.

[00:08:48] This is why it’s crucial. For me, is crucial that we give back to our community because we’re not the only ones who are going through some less than desirable moments and our goal is to get back to the community to say, we’ve gone through these moments.

[00:09:05] These moments have made us stronger but we’re not going to let this moment define us. We, we go through this where we look at an obituary and we say, here’s the birth date and here’s the death date and in between the birth and the death date, 9 times on the obituary is a dash and life is a dash.

[00:09:30] So that moment is a little bit of your dash. So what’s crucial is. What are you doing in your dash? How is your dash making a difference? How are you not letting the pieces of your dash define you to keep you down rather than build you up? I’m, I’m, I’m this old stubborn donkey in, in, in, in Africa, right?

[00:10:00] Who said his, his owner came and say, Hey, you’re getting too old. We don’t need you anymore. Donkey and threw him down a hole. And then all the villagers just happened to be the hole where they put their trash at. And all the villagers kept throwing trash on this donkey. And this donkey just didn’t understand.

[00:10:16] I’ve been so great to my owner. Now I’m, old. I’m, he just want to put me in this hole to die. But the donkey soon remember that. You know what? If I take the trash that they’re throwing on my back. And shake it off of me and put it under my feet. Chances are the trash is gonna help me go up and up.

[00:10:33] And now what came to bury me, now is what liberated me. Wow. And I’m just that 

[00:10:39] Zach White: donkey. That’s an amazing, amazing metaphor. Powerful story. So Sean, coming off of that, you know, you got a lot of ground to cover on your life story and what that trajectory meant for you. So you embraced this Legacy of education, and we could not give enough gratitude to your parents for doing whatever it takes to enable that for you.

[00:11:04] And what a tremendous generational transformation to be a part of. we could probably spend the whole rest of our time talking about what they brought to you in that way. But you leaned into education and tell us just kind of the quick version of how you stumbled into Engineering and technology and these things is kind of when that part of your life began.

[00:11:27] Shawn Dalcour: Zach, I could tell you this if you promise not to laugh at me, if you promise not to laugh at me. Sean, 

[00:11:34] Zach White: let me promise you this. If I laugh, it’s going to be a laughter of love, man. It’s going to be a laughter of love. That’s all I can say. I can’t promise 

[00:11:41] Shawn Dalcour: anything. I got interested in, I think Keisha’s heard this a million times, but I’ve gotten interested in engineering because of curiosity.

[00:11:51] I was always curious and no one could answer this for me growing up. And that was, what happens to the light when I turn the switch off and no one, does it go outside in the grass? What, what happens to it? and I didn’t know until in school, you know, posing some questions like this, one of the instructors said, Sean, that’s engineering.

[00:12:23] That’s why that’s engineering. Noah doesn’t go outside. This is engineering. There’s something in the light switch that turns the light on. There’s electricity that travels from the switch to the actual unit. And I was like, that’s pretty powerful. I like that. And it wasn’t until I started working one summer for Argonne National Laboratories and it was a government laboratory in Argonne, Illinois, about 40, 40, 50 minutes from Chicago, that I started soldering.

[00:12:55] and when I first put together my, soldering board. And it worked and I flipped the switch and the light came on, I was hooked. I was like, I could bring light, I could bring light. I just did that. Mm 

[00:13:11] Zach White: hmm. So I love that, Sean, you’ll appreciate then. My dad was a electrical engineer. He has multiple degrees in EE.

[00:13:20] And so when some of my friends were, playing video games or. shooting hoops on the weekends, there were times when my dad and I would be in the basement soldering, you know, circuit boards and, and playing with LEDs and switches. And that’s a big part of where my engineering curiosity also began.

[00:13:37] I had a very different childhood experience than yours, but I had some special, special moments of that same feeling where it’s like, Ooh, I, I just did that. I built that thing. I made that thing and that. Genuine curiosity of how stuff works, which once you have that, you’d never goes away. I still feel that way about everything.

[00:13:57] Shawn Dalcour: Oh, Zach, you’re out. You’re absolutely correct. And the thing I love about that is that, you know, and I’m, I’m going through this book now called a hundred days, to bravery. And every day, the author gives you two pages of what can you do today? Make you braver than you were yesterday because my endeavor daily is to be a better version of Sean than I was yesterday in a plethora of ways, right?

[00:14:20] A multiplicity of ways. So, one of those are taking small steps to saying that you’re already working in, for lack of better terms, you’re you’re calling. My calling is to share light being an engineer, which is one piece of that. Right. It was just, and so now, I shed light through encouragement.

[00:14:45] I shed light through giving, I shed light through sacrifice, you know, those things. And Keisha, please chime in if there’s anything I’m missing. 

[00:14:54] Zach White: yeah, Keisha, I would love to hear. Your perspective on what you’ve seen in that shift, that transformation and your version of that story growing up in that next generation down, what, what stands out to you and what you’ve seen in your dad and how this comes to life for engineers today, maybe your own journey with it.

[00:15:13] Anything that comes to mind. We’d love to hear that. 

[00:15:15] Keshia Robinson: I get emotional too. And even though he’s my dad, but hearing the story and seeing how, and even me now being a parent, it’s so much that we can do. Where the next generation, it’s like, it’s kind of like you go before them and you know the land, right?

[00:15:34] Right. And so if I can share with my children what I’ve seen out here, what I’ve experienced, then I give them a leg up, right? I give them an opportunity to use some of my intel and be even more strategic in their life decisions. And so when I hear about my grandparents and my dad, and I think about just the foundation, the baseline that he’s given me, and so with that, I’ve been able to expound, but even more so, it’s a part of my fabric.

[00:16:04] It’s a part of my DNA. our history. It’s our story. And, the good and bad, it all has culminated for our betterment. and I get emotional when I hear about my uncle, and The loss and experience and the pain. no matter what anybody’s story is, nobody’s event right from some difficult times and, and where this life, things are going to come about and it’s going to rock you to your core.

[00:16:30] and it ebbs and flows, but ultimately going back to your faith, And giving something where it’sbigger than you. Yeah. It really can submit you, and what you need to do going forward because life is all about pivoting and, using the resources that you have, but honoring those that went before you to, and so I think about my dad a lot and I’ll kind of end here, 

[00:16:55] Zach White: we’re from the south side of Chicago. And so anybody that understands maybe if you’re in the inner city or even like any town, if somebody’s like picking on you or like you’re having some issues or you don’t know how to get through a problem, who are the people you call on, right?

[00:17:09] And usually it’s not the person that you’re like, Oh, I’ve never been in a fight. Oh, I’ve never seen hard times. So I think about my dad’s story, why he’s so valuable to not only me, but the community and other students that I’ve seen him mentor and reach out to and strengthen and support is because he’s really battle tested.

[00:17:29] And because of that It’s like, I know exactly what you’re going through. Everything hasn’t been easy for me. I have not had an easy journey or trajectory. There’s been plenty of times where I could have just given up on myself and my circumstances, but I pressed through. And on the other side of that, right?

[00:17:47] God is able to use that. So I think sometimes where we, feel like, oh, we’re not worthy. Oh, I’m not pristine. But that’s the very thing that’s gonna allow you to connect with so many people because you’re battle tested and battle tested earns you certain stripes that others can’t, right?

[00:18:05] You can have a conversation a little bit differently. So 

[00:18:08] we can’t put a big enough exclamation point after that, when you need, when you’re in that place of, I need help, I need somebody to come alongside me in my moment of whatever the battle is, you don’t call the person who’s not been through something.

[00:18:26] You could call the person who’s been in that battle. Come out victorious. The person who has stood shoulder to shoulder with you before, perhaps in a difficult situation. This battle tested confidence, a battle tested, belief. And so, Keisha, you mentioned how our faith and our belief is so important. And what I wanted to ask you earlier relates to this perfectly what you just said.

[00:18:50] So you possess a faith and a belief in the same thing that your dad told us about earlier that Nothing is impossible. And if I shake this garbage off my back like that donkey that it’s going to lead to my ultimate victory and and liberation. But you didn’t go through the same thing that your dad did.

[00:19:12] You know, Sean saw his brother in the snow. You heard that story, but you still possess the belief. And so could you tell us how does that sense of confidence in you. Those things you have faith in work when you’re not the one who went through it directly and how would you encourage somebody? It may be they’re looking at someone else.

[00:19:34] They’re like, but that’s not my story, but it’s really changed your life, too Keisha, so could you describe that kind of Transfer of the culture of the faith. How did that happen? And how do we do that? If maybe I’m hearing Sean’s story, it’s like I wish I believed the things he did I wish I had what he had but that’s not my story.

[00:19:52] What can I do? 

[00:19:55] Keshia Robinson: it’s such a great question and I think what, and that’s why storytelling is so important. That’s why being inquisitive about your ancestors, right? Your lineage, because some of that is a part of your fabric. learned so many things from both of my parents. about my grandparents, great grandparents, different people that have come before us that are within our bloodline, right?

[00:20:22] And you start to realize, like, it may be new circumstances, but, there’s a lot of commonalities. and with that, I think good or bad or indifferent, it garners strength in knowing, in the knowing, right? The more you know, I think you could be more comfortable and accept who you are in this world and where you come from.

[00:20:42] And You know, my dad is an avid reader. He’s already probably notated a few books. So in seeing him do that, you know, now I am, you know, 38. And of course, hearing these stories, you know, especially growing up and you’re like, Oh man, that’s sad. But you can imagine hearing that story maybe at 10 or 12 years old versus 38.

[00:21:05] Now, and now I’ve lived life a little bit more. I’ve experienced certain things. It may not be exactly. what my dad has experienced. But I’d like to mention a book that I absolutely love. It’s called The Second Mountain. the question for life by David Brooks. So it was like life changing for me because as you go through life, right, we have this kind of first mountain where it could be disappointing and you’re kind of proving yourself going through school.

[00:21:33] But it’s that second mountain, where It’s something usually where you’re completely blindsided and you have to surrender to whatever that is, whatever circumstance is happening. If you can’t talk yourself way out of it, you can’t intellectualize your way out of it. It completely rocks you to your core.

[00:21:50] everybody’s going to experience something like that. It could be a death. It could be, you know, a divorce. It could be something just cataclysmic to your life. But usually that’s what thrusts you to your purpose. And so I feel like I’ve experienced that second mountain, but everything throughout my, my learnings and my nurturing from my parents and my dad, they were giving me the tools.

[00:22:11] So when I was going to encounter some real, Valley moments in my life, I had something to turn to faith, you know, my relationship with God, right? Because we’re all going to turn to something, but it’s like, what’s in my toolbox that now I can activate. And so, you know, there’s been a lot of things, whether that’s navigating my career, trying to find purposeful work.

[00:22:34] I’m also a mother to a special needs child. a lot of that journey has been just where I’m like, Oh my God, I don’t have the answers. And that’s the very moment that God could use you, right? Because he’s not going to benefit from a life that he’s not needed. and I feel like, through those steps, I’ve been able to really see what what God can do.

[00:22:55] and what he can do through me. And so it’s now made the stories that I know for my dad’s life, right? It’s even the more valuable. And now I can pass it on to my Children. So 

[00:23:06] Zach White: good, Sean. If we take that And now I’ll link it back, say, okay, what did that create for you in terms of your career and the way that showed up?

[00:23:18] So I’m going to give you the, the toughest challenge of the day so far, would you, would you be willing to share with us? The arc of your career journey on the cliff notes, the speed version and in two minutes, what happened from your curiosity of where does the light go when you flip the switch, leading us up to what is truly an astonishing.

[00:23:43] resume today. Give us that version and maybe we’ll find a couple of moments we need to double click on. But what happened? Tell us about your career. 

[00:23:53] Shawn Dalcour: Sure. and I will be remiss to to keep telling you and Keisha is going to get me for this. But Zach, I told you she was phenomenal. I told you my daughter was just phenomenal.

[00:24:05] I, I’m sitting here looking at her like, I don’t know. I ain’t had nothing to do with her. She is just, Oh my God, she’s just phenomenal. but, but the trajectory was, was immediate as, as I alluded to earlier. And that was, this happened in December. My brother’s birthday is December 6th. He was actually killed on December 2nd.

[00:24:27] We had his funeral on his birthday on his 30th birthday. And I started after Christmas break that year. Remember like it was yesterday and it was probably close to 50 years at this point now, 45 years. But when I completed. Christmas break and went back to school.

[00:24:48] I started doing more research on what is an engineer? What is that? First of all, how do you even spell engineer? What would it wasn’t, you know what you got to understand that no one in my neighborhood Went to school, especially after school. we sold drugs. We did prostitution. We went to jail, but very, and if we went to school, it was, an athlete.

[00:25:14] We had some basketballs, football players, right? So you never thought of. being this nerd, going to school for academics. And to Keisha’s point, quite frankly, is that when you need some help and somebody’s messing with you, who do you go to? And for me, it was my two older brothers. And I didn’t know this, and I’m 110 years old.

[00:25:35] I didn’t notice until three years ago, four years ago, prior to my other brother making his transition, that my brothers had gotten together when I was a child because I’m number seven and they were numbers one and two. And they said, Hey, Sean can not. make the same decisions that we’ve made in grammar school in high school.

[00:25:58] So all this time I’m thinking I’m just this invisible guy that nobody’s messing with. Not knowing that my brothers have put everybody on notice that this is my baby brother and you better not touch him. If you do, you’re going to have to come through me. and I, and my brother never shared that with me again until probably six months, maybe a year prior to him.

[00:26:21] passing on. so I started calling around and I lived right across the street from Illinois Institute of Technology. and I, so I, started, I called them, I picked up the phone, you know, in those days, and I know people watching this, you’re going to have to Google it, but we actually had yellow pages, right?

[00:26:38] And we, you know, in those days, Zach, I know you got to Google it, but we had the Britannica Encyclopedia. Whoa, you know, you, you actually had to sift through and read through, but we didn’t have a YouTube or Google or anything like that. I mean, I still remember You know, making one phone call took me four or five tries because I had a rotary phone when, when the phone was working.

[00:27:03] Right. So, um, so I started calling, I called IIT, I called Illinois Institute of Technology and said, my name is Sean. I don’t know what an engineer is. Are there any programs you guys have? And they said, they got me through to somebody. And finally they said, we do, we have some programs for underprivileged black and Brown kids.

[00:27:27] Who has decent grades and they come here for the summer. We pay you like it’s a summer job, but you take two weeks of electrical engineering, you take two weeks of civil engineering, you take two weeks of mechanical engineering. You take two weeks of industrial engineering and you get your feet wet on what is an engineer, hopefully.

[00:27:46] you’ll come here for school. And that was between my junior and my senior year of high school. And from there, when I graduated that, God opened the door and I was able to, to attend there on scholarships to IIT. And I remember I worked for Argonne National Labs for two summers, again, still engineering.

[00:28:04] And then IBM came on campus and everyone was ratting and raving about IBM. And I didn’t, Know about them and everybody said, Oh, any engineering student, you’re going to want to work for IBM in those days with Xerox Bell Labs. I know I’m dating myself. I came out with punch cards. We have, I know some of the younger people Google it.

[00:28:23] We have punch cards that we did our homework from, from writing code on computer science classes. At any rate, I was standing around a group, a group of guys. And I said, Hey, I think I’m an interview. I want to interview for this IBM. And everybody knew that I was from across the street. and so there’s one guy who happened to be a Caucasian guy.

[00:28:45] He called me to N Word and he said, N Word, please. He said, IBM don’t take N Words, in particular, N Words from the housing projects. So, what do you, what do you mean? and I, I didn’t, Zach. I, I think I have an okay relationship. with Jesus now, but at that point I didn’t, so once they kind of pull us apart, um, I say, does he still 

[00:29:10] Zach White: have teeth?

[00:29:11] Shawn Dalcour: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’m praying for me. I wasn’t delivered. So once they kind of broke us up, I say, you know what, at this point, Zachary, I have not nothing to do. I’ve been told no before I have nothing to lose. So I put together my resume and it probably was 10 lines. There’s nothing on my resume but my name.

[00:29:33] and IBM came on campus, interviewed me, and I got my first job at IBM in Boca Raton, Florida. And then the next job, IBM in Lexington, Kentucky. Now, mind you, I was 20 years old at that point. My whole life was about an eight block radius. Right. Never gone out of the city. Let alone, let alone downtown.

[00:29:51] then I went to Rochester, Minnesota and graduated and all with IBM. And then. IBM and in Manassas Virginia in the D. C. area for four years and traveled the world. And, God kept taking me from engineering to technical, to sales, to leadership. And I ended up. You know, at the last job I was at, which is Verizon responsible for 1.

[00:30:16] 3 billion a year coming into Verizon through partnership. So just kind of give you the plethora of that. 

[00:30:25] Zach White: Did that answer your question? Oh, it does. It doesn’t. And Sean, I’m just going to. Say, now we’re going to have to do another conversation because now that opens up a hundred more questions about the things you’ve learned and discovered about career success.

[00:30:40] But what I think for today would be amazing, I mean, first of all, just paints the picture of how anything is possible and I’m so encouraged. And so I have two more things I’d love to unpack with you before we run out of time. One is a question about this, nothing to lose. Spirit. A lot of us have seen stories, heard people tell about their moments of their backs against the wall.

[00:31:07] They have nothing to lose. And that gives them the courage or the willingness to say, I’m going to act because why not? But a lot of engineers, especially people who come, you know, into coaching with us partway into their career, they’ve got a lot to lose. Or at least they feel that way. That’s, that’s the sense that they have and grips them in fear of losing what they’ve built to go after their dream.

[00:31:33] And I’m just curious, would you advocate for living your whole life as if you have nothing to lose? Or is there a point where you need to approach decisions differently because something’s at stake and how do you think about that now? 

[00:31:51] Shawn Dalcour: Wow. 

[00:31:52] uh, Zach, I, I would even to this day feel that I have nothing. Nothing to lose. And my, my, my analogy is that the best, uh, Keisha worked for Cubs. They found her and they created a job for Chicago Cubs, uh, for her for four years. They, they found her on LinkedIn and created a role for her to come to work.

[00:32:16] And it was so great. because her, her grandfather, my dad was huge Cubs fan and that made everybody connected to him had to be Cubs fans, right? So it was really a surreal moment for us. But I said that to say that, some of the greatest baseball hitters in terms of whole run hitters are the same guys who strike out the most.

[00:32:41] And that’s because they are. They’re not afraid to take risk. I miss every ball that I don’t swing at. That’s right. So I’m, I’m going to swing. If this is a two and O pitch, I know that I can hit the ball off the park. I know given a halfway decent pitch that one I can hit it. So I’m going to swing at it with Everything I get, and I’m one of the guys who, when I swing, I do a whole 360 because I’m swinging at everything so hard that I give everything a thousand percent and say, yep, I’m going to go for it.

[00:33:18] The worst they could do is say no. That helped me going from engineering to leadership and sales because sales, we’re used to getting no. And so I tried to go back and do some forensics or why did I get a no? and then keep just going back at I’m a quarterback. I have very, very, very quick, just, I forget very quickly the last play.

[00:33:42] Somebody intercepted me with this play. I’m getting ready. I’m getting ready to throw a touchdown touchdown time. Yeah, it’s touchdown time. And you, and my last play. with the interception has positioned me. My back is up against the wall. I have nothing to lose. So I’m going for fourth and four. I’m going for it for account.

[00:34:06] I’m going 

[00:34:07] Zach White: for it. I love it. I love it. Uh, Keisha did that back against the wall spirit transferred to you as well. Do you feel that same energy in your life? Oh 

[00:34:19] Keshia Robinson: my gosh, I’m over here like, yes, yes, you know, and I think that’s You know, he’s obviously my dad, but such a like champion and cheerleader. I’m like, if anybody can hear my dad every morning, you’d be riled up to like, go play in like the championship game and win it all.

[00:34:39] you know what to say and a way to say it in sports is such a great. conduit to learn discipline, teamwork, commitment. also wins and losses, right? Nobody’s ever on top. You don’t win every game. but if we apply this and I love what the analogy, especially when it comes to risk and what dad was explaining with baseball and I learned so much working with the Cubs, even that sport alone and how it has the longest season probably of any sport.

[00:35:11] So many games. So that’s usually people like they get paid. That’s why they get paid the big bucks. You literally committing a full year outside of January. for the most part. But I wanted to also highlight, especially in my space, working with the National Society of Black Engineers. my dad and I recently had a conversation with someone and this quote has stuck with me.

[00:35:34] And if anybody’s a Trekkie, Or Star Trek fan. And I imagine there are some parallels, especially with engineering and stem. But, Captain Kirk, it’s one of his famous quotes is that risk is our business. And it’s something that is so synonymous with engineering with the spirit of stem innovators.

[00:35:54] anybody that’s trying to trailblaze a path like risk is where you want to live, right? Because nothing can be accomplished or discovered or change if we’re all in this safe space. So you have to be willing to take risks. You have to be able to what my dad says a lot is be the map and the model.

[00:36:13] sometimes you may not see it, but it’s okay to challenge the status quo because that’s the only way we’re going to grow as people and as a society. 

[00:36:21] Zach White: so good. All right, Sean, when we come back another time, we’re going to unpack how this life, the three part philosophy you mentioned, we’re just going to tease the happy engineer with that.

[00:36:33] We’re not even going to go there today. We don’t have time, but when we come back, we’ll cover that. Talk more about leadership and these things and what I’m so impressed. By not, not impressed, like, wow, you know, bragging impressed upon me. It just is so clear this conversation, maybe someone from the outside would say, what does this have to do with engineering, but it has everything to do with engineering.

[00:36:54] and the reality that what holds most of us back from the career that we’re capable of is not your understanding. of fundamental physics or electricity or writing code. It’s these aspects, that willingness to get in the batter’s box, knowing that the same box that you hit home runs from is the same box.

[00:37:14] You strike out in, and that takes a lot of courage to do. And so I’m, I’m inspired. I love it. Sean and Keisha both. However,whoever wants to share, I know people will want to connect with you and tap into these resources and ways to be supported in their careers, et cetera, and, and Keisha, you particular serve in and with the national side of black engineers now, where can people.

[00:37:36] just kind of take a next step, plug into this kind of mindset and these resources and the kinds of amazing people like the two of you, where can they do that? 

[00:37:46] Keshia Robinson: So, I currently serve as director of operations at the National Society of Black Engineers.

[00:37:51] definitely I would encourage everyone to check out all things Nesby at Nesby dot org. there’s a plethora of information, the genesis of the organization, also all of our year round programming. And we literally support it’s really about the start of access to what stem is. And when we say stem, everything from science and technology to engineering and mathematics.

[00:38:18] And so accessing students to those resources as early as kindergarten. And then our organization supports you all the way through your professional journey. And then hopefully you’ll become a person like my dad, which is a lifetime member. So throughout that tenure, there’s all kind of resources and support.

[00:38:38] So whether you’re looking to learn more about engineering, if you’re a college student looking to see what’s the spectrum of engineering that I could possibly, you know, major in, whether the different jobs, what are the different, opportunities. We also have corporate partners that we support. We have summer programs, so volunteering opportunities, it’s quite robust.

[00:38:58] We’re the largest student led organization, I believe in the country. So it’s very, very neat. Um, so nesby. org, you can find out all that information 

[00:39:08] Zach White: there. Awesome. Keisha, thank you for sharing that. And I do encourage everybody to go check that out. Whether you, you, you know, in your thirties and look like me or you’re 110 and look like Sean.

[00:39:19] It’s a great place to go and get resources. And I just think back to your story about IIT and that opportunity to go be a part of something, you know, ways to give back. So maybe you don’t need resources, but you could plug in with NSBE and give and be a part of changing someone else’s life who needs that opportunity that you’ve been given.

[00:39:37] So go check that out. Sean, we’re going to land the plane for today with a question I always finish with. I’m excited to hear your heart for this. And as an engineer, you know, as well as anyone, the questions. Come first questions lead the answers follow great engineering involves asking great questions finding the right question and And then pursuing the answers great leadership great coaching the things you do now It’s it’s really being intentional to ask great questions So if we want better answers in our life and in our career, let’s ask better questions So what would be?

[00:40:15] A question that you would lead the happy engineer with coming out of this conversation, if they’re looking to make it to that next level and to really step into that infinite potential that you’ve experienced and been talking about today. Wow. 

[00:40:31] Shawn Dalcour: That’s rich. I, I, I guess one of my major questions is, what legacy do you want to leave?

[00:40:43] Because engineers. Leave. Legacy. if it’s nothing more than, HVAC heating and cooling or nothing more than automobiles going from gas to electric or, or lights or transportation. Or now the big thing is AI, which we’ve been doing for a hundred years. We just never called it. Right.

[00:41:10] Right. Um, so the main thing for an engineer is what do you want to be? Your, your legacy, 

[00:41:18] That’s what an engineer does. Say, what can I make unique and different and change the legacy of not just my wife, but now, as you alluded to earlier in our discussion, my daughters, right?

[00:41:30] They don’t, they didn’t have to grow up in a gang infested and, and, and shots fired and. They didn’t, they know about it. I’ve taken them back to it. They understand it, but that’s not their story, right? Uh, because of the decisions, because of the legacy that I, I said, I wanted to leave as, as a young boy.

[00:41:55] Zach White: What legacy? Do you want to leave? Yeah. Happy engineer taking action to bring that legacy to life today. Sean, thank you so much for giving us your time, your wisdom, your heart, your story means a lot and can’t wait to do it again, brother. 

[00:42:11] Shawn Dalcour: Can’t wait. I appreciate you, Zach. I’m excited about it. And to all of those who are looking at this, it’s not by accident.

[00:42:17] It’s not by accident. They have a great destiny, great purpose, nothing they can’t do. Go for it. Get up and swing. Get up and swing. I’m, I’m begging you right now because we need, we need the whole earth realm. We need what’s inside of you. Engineers rock