Being an Engineer

S2E23 Personal Responsibility: Seeing People As People and Getting Hired | Jeff Perry

May 21, 2021 Jeff Perry Season 2 Episode 23
Being an Engineer
S2E23 Personal Responsibility: Seeing People As People and Getting Hired | Jeff Perry
Show Notes Transcript

Despite his many years of experience in engineering and engineering leadership roles, Jeff Perry had reached a point in his career where he just wasn’t feeling the motivation he knew he should be. After some soul searching and advice from his wife, he decided to start More Than Engineering, a coaching service aimed at engineers and technology professionals. Since then he has been able to help engineers move into new roles, shift mindsets, and generally become happier not only in their professional lives but in their personal lives. 

The Being An Engineer podcast is brought to you by Pipeline Design & Engineering. Pipeline partners with medical & other device engineering teams who need turnkey equipment such as cycle test machines, custom test fixtures, automation equipment, assembly jigs, inspection stations and more. You can find us on the web at www.teampipeline.us.


Workplace Perspective

With the help of the Arbinger Institute, Jeff shares how he reflects on his attitude towards the people he works with, which eventually became the foundation of his coaching services. He thinks that a change in belief or perspective towards his co-workers lead to positive changes. 

 "A lot of times, when we’re trying to move through an organizational change, we focus too much on the things we need to do differently but we also need to recognize that we need to be different, and we need to believe differently.” - Jeff Perry 

Law of Motion

Jeff takes pride in using scientific principles to help people grow and develop. For instance, he uses Newton’s Law of Motion to demonstrate that he managed to change his stagnant career when he acted on his passion for serving people. He said that being an engineering coach allowed him to assist people in making the changes they want from their careers and love what they do.

“I see a lot of breakthroughs with the people that I work with. These people would say ‘I know something needs to change but I don’t know what that is or how to make that happen, or where I want to go.’ Focusing on the things that you do want, it’s a much more powerful place to be coming from. When we’re trying to make a change, try to identify what we want and move towards that rather than trying to just move away from a negative situation.” - Jeff Perry 

Land the Job You Love

While it is important to get a job, it is more worthwhile to get the job you’d love doing. That said, getting the job you like is not easy, and that’s where Jeff enters the picture. His practice includes helping people expand their social network, creating personal branding, and optimizing their resumes and LinkedIn profile. He also offers a simple yet vital technique for interviews, which is to know what the company is looking for and how you can solve them.

“I feel like people don’t, there’s plenty of people who don’t take charge and ownership of their own careers, they just kind of expect that and a lot of engineers just kind of had this over the years, if they’ve been in their career for a while, that kind of the next opportunity just kind of came, you know, they just did a good job, and then the next opportunity would come their way. And they’re like, you know, I didn’t actually want this and I realize this isn’t actually where I want to stay but I haven’t actually really thought about what I want to do yet. And so some of the things we’ve already talked about, like getting clear on what you want and moving towards that. “- Jeff Perry

Check out Jeff's website to learn more about More Than Engineering.

Presenter:

The Being An Engineer podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people, resources and opportunities. Enjoy the show.

Jeff Perry:

Honestly, there are plenty of times and still sometimes aren't. There were days that I wanted to crawl under the desk and just hide from the world. Because I, my wife didn't work. We had two kids and one on the way, there was no other income coming in, and I had to figure out how to make this work, or, or nothing was going to happen.

Aaron Moncur:

Hello, and welcome to another fascinating edition of the being an engineer podcast. Today, our guest is Jeff Perry, who holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA, graduating with honors in the top 10% of his class. Jeff has a myriad of different professional experience, including market analytics, nuclear fuel rod production, CAD automation, e-commerce, graphic design, manufacturing operations, podcast host and his current role as the founder of More Than Engineering, a coaching program designed specifically for engineering and technology professionals, which is where we'll spend the bulk of our time talking today. Jeff, welcome to the show.

Jeff Perry:

Thanks, Aaron. Wow, you really dug deep and all those background experiences that I've been into. And some of those I kind of forgot about, because they were like old internships when I was in school and stuff. But yeah, it's been quite a ride over the years.

Aaron Moncur:

Yeah, a fun walk through memory lane, right.

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, that's right.

Aaron Moncur:

You know, a lot of people say that after we finish the interview, they're like, you know, I hadn't thought about that experience for years, or I forgotten entirely that this thing and it happened until we talked, and I think it does end up being a pretty fun experience for people just getting to relive some of those past experiences.

Jeff Perry:

It's true, it's true.

Aaron Moncur:

Well, why did you originally decide to become an engineer?

Jeff Perry:

Great question. So it was pretty simple for me, actually, originally. Ever since I was a really young kid, like math and science numbers just came pretty naturally to me. That's just kind of how I came wired, I guess. And so I got into advanced math classes and science classes and stuff but I didn't like love math, for the sake of doing math. I didn't love physics or anything else, just for the sake of it. And so everyone was like, well, engineering, engineering, that that's what makes sense. And so, and I kind of saw engineering as this way to use the skills that I had and we're developing over the years, to not just like, solve computations, but actually to like, make stuff and, and create something that would that that I could feel that I could experience. And mechanical engineering was a great way to do that. And so I think it was in eighth or ninth grade, I decided, Hey, I'm going to be a mechanical engineer. And I stuck with that I never changed my major and I went right to school. And in doing that, and that was kind of always the path. Now, I didn't know exactly what I was going to do after that, or what, what sorts of things but but I always knew that engineering was on the mind for a long time.

Aaron Moncur:

So you have this company, More Than Engineering now. And we're going to dig into that quite a bit. But before we do, can you share a little bit about your experience before you started your coaching company? What engineering experience is under your belt?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, so even in the engineering space, and some things I did, it was kind of a wide variety. And I think you got into some of that earlier. So when I was an undergrad studying mechanical engineering, I got an opportunity to do, to be a part of some research in a lab where we were doing actually building software for CAD system. So some of the CAD software's that are out there like Siemens NX and and Katia and SolidWorks, and stuff like that. We're actually creating ways that you could do multi-user CAD so think of Google docs for for building things in in CAD systems are multiple people could be in one model or an assembly, building things all at the same time, and so is pretty cool stuff that we're working on. And through that the lab had connections to a number of industry partners, and one of those was General Motors. And they were building out a team to start doing more automation and software in their CAD systems and they call it Knowledge-based engineering. And so they actually came to BYU because they knew that this, this group of students really specialized in doing exactly what they needed to do. And they needed to build some people out there. And so I think they interviewed nine of us and six of us got a job, and we all just kind of ended up. And we, we all got this job together is pretty fun. And so for the first few years out of mechanical engineering school, I was actually writing software. And that was a new experience. And I did that it was kind of hard jumping into that for me in some ways, because when I got the job offer, I only actually taken one software class, it just like whatever was required mechanical engineering degree, that was more about numerical methods and stuff like that. And we were doing c++, and I wasn't going to be coding in c++ when I got there. So I took one more class, I had one more term, before I was graduating, I took one more software development class, which was really like an intro computer science class, because I needed one more credit or something like that, and I just wanted to get ready. But I was totally like, not 100% sure I could do this, when I got there. And then they put us through like this, I think there's about six weeks of training on on all sorts of software stuff, because they had people from all sorts of different majors coming into the, to the company, and they kind of wanted a nice baseline for everyone. So I learned some stuff there. And then honestly, I just jumped in and started learning and, and did my very best, and I had some great co-workers who were helping me through things and, and I grew and I figured it out. So became an became an okay, software developer also kind of tended to gravitate towards some of the business relationship side of things in there. And for those who are familiar with some software development principles, and some of the ways that a lot of software companies will work. And sometimes hardware people do that too. Our team was really trying to build and work in an agile or Scrum methodology approach and so that was new. And that was as a big thing for me to learn. And so I got to be involved in doing a lot of that planning and, and, and the running of some of those meetings and organizing, how we were structuring our work and stuff like that. So I got, I got a taste of being on the, you know, touching the business and kind of almost being the voice of the customer and the client, which for us was internal, people that we were delivering to thousands of engineers, and we were trying to save a bunch of time with what we were delivering for them, and also being deep into into writing code. So the experience there, but we can go

Aaron Moncur:

After your stint in software, I think you did get into hardware eventually. Right? I did. So actually, the agile and the scrum methodologies as you got into hardware, and how did that work?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, so I just kind of what that transition looked like that was kind of my first, what I call career plateau, I was at a point where I realized that writing software code was was just not what I wanted to be doing all the time. It, it just didn't fit me. And that's why I talked about I was kind of starting to gravitate towards more the people side of things. But I had some connections that landed me an opportunity in a smaller company where I could actually take on my first leadership role and it afforded me the opportunity to start growing a team. And we're we're kind of trying to build out a new market or adjust utilizing some of the instrumentation and things that this company did. They built a lot of instrumentation that did measurements and environmental factors, and Agriculture applications, and even Food Science applications, stuff like that was trying to work on building a whole new market for new ways to apply those things. And there was a whole another challenge because I've never built a whole new market inside of a business before. It's a whole new experience of me feeling like an imposter but I was doing some hardware design and the company had just recently, I think within the last year before I joined, had started to make a shift towards moving towards agile methodologies in connecting their hardware and their software teams because they had hardware and software components to the work that they were doing because they would make all sorts of instruments that were collecting data, then they had machines that would use telemetry to collect that data, move it up to the cloud or other systems, then they need to work with the data, and so there were there were lots of different pieces to this right.

Aaron Moncur:

And I found that agile worked well even with hardware.

Jeff Perry:

It made it difficult in hardware. It really did because you're dealing with all sorts of other issues with you're dealing with suppliers, and materials and a lot of other unknowns, it is much easier in software where you can have teams that can be kind of universal where other people can fit and fill in. Whereas in a hardware team generally a lot of times we would have one maybe to have any type of engineer, you know, mechanical or electrical engineers and stuff like that, trying to pair that with with the software and the networking stuff that we had to do, and it really made it difficult to line all those things up into an agile you're using Sprint's of two or three weeks where you're trying to finish out a set of work that is almost in a deliverable shippable state between that, or at least some reasonable milestone, so you're continuing to move through progress in these cycles, and keep moving forward there.

Aaron Moncur:

Interesting, okay. Well, eventually, you realize that you just weren't feeling the whole engineering space anymore, at least as an engineering and you decided to branch out on your own and and become an engineering coach. So this is something that's very fascinating to me, because I have never heard of an engineering coach before. Where did you even come up with the idea that, oh, there should be this thing called specifically an engineering coach? And then how did you make that transition?

Jeff Perry:

It's, it's been a journey. So a couple more pieces to that, there was another shift inside the company that I was working at, were actually acquired and merged with a smaller company in Germany. And went through like a rebranding phase and kind of a culture shift. And that was a, that was a tough thing for a lot of people. And then I got into another role where I was leading more of a manufacturing, process improvement, lean manufacturing type stuff. But on top of that, we kind of went through a culture shift and brought in some consultants to help that because there was actually a lot of contention about the direction of the company on an employees' days. And the consultants that were brought in the foundation of what they were working on was around mindsets, and how mindsets actually drive our behavior, what we do and how we see people, and then that delivers the results that we're looking for. And a lot of times, when we're trying to move through an organizational change, we focus too much on the things we need to do differently. But really, we also need to recognize that we need to be different, and we need to believe differently. And that was kind of the first time that I started to learn these principles for myself. And I, as part of the leadership team, I was part of the first group that went through a 2-day workshop that they put us through, and it opened my eyes to a lot of things that I was not doing well at all.

Aaron Moncur:

What are some of those things?

Jeff Perry:

Some of the ways that I would approach working with people, where I would approach things in a really selfish way and either look at people is like, hey, what can I get out of this person? How can I convince them of what I need to, what I need to convince them of, and/or I would just completely disregard other people. And so they talk about seeing people as people or seeing people as objects, by the way that that company is one is based out of Utah, they're called the Arbinger Institute and people can go look them up, and they've got some fabulous books that I would definitely recommend. But it talks about seeing people as people are seeing people as objects, where we can see people as either like vehicles, like get, you know, get something out of them are obstacles like, hey, they're in my way, or irrelevancies, like, I just don't care about them. And so I, I was able to uncover like, Oh, I'm doing that all the time to people, you know, whether they're on my team, or whether they're my peers that I'm working with. And this is, this is not good. So actually, it was enough of a push for me when I went through that original training. And the question mark was kind of like, okay, the leadership group has been through this, but how much do we really want to make this a reality for the whole company? Is this going to be a big thing and learns that they that the Arbinger Institute actually trained people kind of did a train the trainer thing, so that you could go train your own company, I kind of raised my hand and said, Hey, if we're gonna do this, I'd love to, and I think I could do a good job of it. So me with a couple other colleagues of mine got trained to do that and then train the whole rest of the company over the next year or so.

Aaron Moncur:

how did the rest of the company react to that? I mean, was there a lot of pushback where people like, Oh, geez, another workshop? Come on, I got stuff to do you know, or did people really respond to it? And over time, how did that affect the culture?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, the answer is yes, Aaron, all of the above happens, depending on the people, because this is a type of work that you're trying to fundamentally invite people to adjust how they view themselves and take personal responsibility for challenges rather than blaming other people, and be willing to be open to making some significant adjustments. And that's really hard for a lot of people to do and so some people resisted that in a big way. But there were some great stories of transformations with senior leaders that were that were butting heads, went through some of the exercises, and then tools that we were able to learn together and had huge breakthroughs to be able to work together in more efficient ways. So stuff like that. And then some people who were like, so abrasive in their work, where they were literally about to get fired, probably within the next week or two, they went to the workshop and whatever happened, they were able to kind of open themselves up to some new ways of thinking. And the ways that other people talked about that they completely changed, and even got promoted because of the the transformation is so incredible. So some people, and so it was kind of all the above, but I do believe that the company is a whole shifted in a much more positive direction, and then had a common language and a set of tools to work together in more effective ways together.

Aaron Moncur:

I'm gonna check them out that sounds fantastic. Yeah, we'll talk about your transition into coaching from engineering. How did that happen?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah. So that that experience being a part of those, teaching those workshops, and then sometimes we had to do some custom things for certain teams to try and get people to work together. And sometimes even with individuals, kind of unlock some things for me, right, and eventually got to this point where my main job, all that all that work that I was doing was just on the side of my main team that I was leading and responsibilities I had but but that's the stuff that I really look forward to and work. And so the other stuff, I actually was starting to get kind of bored at, I had created a new system, we've gone through kind of a digital transformation on our manufacturing facility that I had led the team through. And at that point, I'd kind of at a point where I wasn't innovating and growing, the things are just kind of maintaining and and that got me to a point where I was kind of bored at personally. And I was I was feeling like I wasn't growing. And so I got to this point where I knew that something needed to change. I loved the company, I love the people that I worked at, and experienced a lot of positive growth. But I wasn't in a place where I was giving, able to give my best skills to the company. I knew that that wasn't probably right for them and it also wasn't right for me. And I could I could feel that disconnect. And so I had some conversations, pretty tough conversations with my leaders and talked about what I was feeling and experiencing and seeing and said, essentially, I'd love to explore if there are other opportunities where we could find where my combination of skills could be a better value to the company. If we can find that, that'd be great. I'd love to stick around because I love it here. But if not, it's probably best if I go and that would be okay. Like I know, I can find something on the other side but, you know, it's it's probably just best for everyone. And so we explored some things but nothing really worked out. It was the right fit at the right time for the company. So it was decided that I should go and so then I had the whole question mark, what do I do now? Right?

Aaron Moncur:

Because you didn't really have a detailed plan of what to do.

Jeff Perry:

I did not not at all. And so so I spent a lot of time as soon as it was like the day after. I had that conversation with my vice president about that I really good relationship with and she was really cool but I was going to be going on vacation for like a week, week and a half or something like that. And so I spent a lot of time that next week, spend some time and we're in the mountains, I spent some time outside I took a journal I wrote in my journal a lot. I'm a religious person. I spent time in prayer, trying to figure out what's next and it some point I don't remember when but at some point is my wife who is actually you know what, you've always kind of wanted to start your own thing at some point, maybe this is the time to do that because I was actually halfway through an MBA degree, I was thinking maybe I can just do a career transition, that's more of a leadership, product management role or something like that, that might be a good fit. But I partnered more on on, okay, maybe I need to start my own thing but then the journal came out be like, what would that thing be? Eventually, long story short, one time when I was writing in the journal, I came, I started thinking about all these ways that engineering principles and science principles connect to ways that we grow and develop as people. And some of the principles I would see in manufacturing process improvement, or are things as simple as Newton's Laws of Motion where an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force, I saw that that was true for me, that I saw that when I was at that point in my career, I was at rest. I was stagnant in my career. And so I needed this moment, this push to be an outside force to get me in motion to move and grow in a new way. You know, that's just one of the many principles I started writing and I couldn't stop writing about the, you know, all these things. Then said, why can't I relate a lot of these engineering ideas, to connect with how engineers want to grow and that was kind of the start of it. And it's been quite the journey ever since, in building something out.

Aaron Moncur:

I love that. Thank you for sharing, what a great story. Something you said earlier made me recall an experience I had, I went through a similar period, as you did, where I really wasn't engaged in the work, I was not as courageous as you, I didn't go to my bosses and say, hey, I'm just not, I'm not into this, I might need to leave. It was the other way around. They were smart people and they realized that I wasn't really engaged. And so they approached me and said, "Hey, if you can't get it together, you're gonna leave". And, I actually did pull it together but the recession hit, and they're like, "Yeah, I think you're still gonna leave". So that happened but during that time, I remember, I built a new website for that company while I was working there and the website, there was a medical division that were growing medical device, engineering development, and I built a website specifically for that group. And I remember having a great time doing it, I think I was doing some side hustle web design work anyway and so I kind of knew how to do it. And I did a little bit of SEO on it, and we got to hit like, within the first week or something, someone submitted a form. And I was so excited by that, you know, going to work and doing the engineering stuff I was not super excited about but building this website, and getting a lead from this website I had created that was just thrilling to me. And it it makes me think that people listening to this, you know, if you're, if you're going through something where you're not super into what you are doing, spend some time with self reflection, and think about, what are you enjoying, because chances are, you're you're not miserable 100% of the time, there are there are probably areas in your life where you really are happy when you're doing those things and, and reflect on those and be aware of those things. And then start thinking to yourself, well, what, you know, what does that mean for me? And how should I change my my path moving forward because of that?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, I really love that Aaron kind of identifying those things that we we do love and it, some of those things get uncovered over time. And we just need to have a whole new set of experiences as we move along. And that's why just continuing to try and grow and try and learn new things is helpful and learn more about ourselves along the way. But that's a lot of where I'd say, I get to specialize and where I see a lot of the breakthroughs with the people that I work with now and in my company and my coaching practice is people who are like, I know something needs to change but I don't really know what that is or how to make that happen, or where I really want to go. And so like you said, kind of focusing on the things that you do want, it's a much more powerful place to be coming from, when we're trying to make change is to trying to identify what we want and move towards that rather than trying just a move, move away from a negative situation. Right, and then wrap towards the desired state rather than just try and run away from something we don't like. And so we help uncover that and kind of uncover what are their unique sets of talents in the those combinations of skills and interests and passions that they have that that makes them a little bit unique. And when they uncover that, then they can have a direction and, and identify the things that they really care about and move towards that rather than just taking kind of what comes their way they can be proactive rather than reactive.

Aaron Moncur:

Very good, very good. Well, I'm gonna take a short break here. Share the TEAM Pipeline.us is where you can learn more about how we help medical device and other product engineering or manufacturing teams, develop turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines to characterize inspect, assemble, manufacturer and perform verification testing on your devices. So Jeff, when you decided to leave the company kind of go out on your own, you start to have an idea of what it is you want to do, right? You start connecting these engineering principles with like, life development principles and moving towards this coaching sphere, how did you know that there was going to be a market for coaching specifically within engineering, because coaching, you know, in general, there's certainly a market for that it's kind of blown up over the past 10 years or 15 years, I feel like, but how did you know that specifically, within engineering, you can make a living and, you know, thrive?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, I felt like, if I was going to start something, I need to find my niche and the people that I could connect with, because if I'm just trying to do coaching for everyone to kind of solve any problem or whatever, then I'm not really talking to anyone, it's not going to resonate with anyone. And I find that engineers are interesting, you know, they can be tend to be a little bit prideful. And, you know, they talk about people, you know, plenty of engineers, I talk to you think about, and you know, the pure engineers like selling out for leadership and other things like that. And so engineers get really into like, identifying with each other and this identity of, "Hey, I'm an Engineer", and whatever that is. And so I felt like there was this opportunity, where I could relate with a lot of the experiences and skills and things that, that engineers go through, because I've been there and a number of different types of industries, large and small companies, manufacturing, and mechanical design, and software stuff that I done. And so I can relate with a whole range of them and so I felt like, if I was going to do a niche, that's, that's probably where it would best be served. And especially if I was going to be relating these engineering principles and other things, too. So that's where I started to uncover and do research and start talking to people and it's been a process ever since.

Aaron Moncur:

And where did you find the confidence to, or the conviction that helps you believe people were going to listen to you, you know, was there any imposter syndrome or from this from the get go was just I know what I'm doing, I'm very confident, I know what I'm doing and I can help everyone else, and they're gonna believe me.

Jeff Perry:

There was a whole heap of imposter syndrome and still is. And I'm, like, it doesn't go away, we just get a little bit better at managing it over time. Now recognize I dealt with imposter syndrome at every role I'd had before because I was going into new experiences and environments that I hadn't done before. And so I gotten a little bit of experience moving through that in the past, but where I was coming from nothing, who was I to talk to these people and help them through stuff, or whatever, there was only that little flicker of recognizing, hey, I'd done this with and seen some people that I was able to help internally to the company and recognize that I could see even some patterns that I'd done this with friends over the course of my lifetime, that was kind of the one of those people that people would come to, and I talked them through things they were going through. So as a few things like that. And I spent a lot of time asking people that were close to me that knew me what what they really appreciated. And so I was doing a lot of self discovery through this process and I just looked for opportunities where I could give and try and teach something and get some sort of feedback, even if it if it was terrible, and so threw my hat in the ring for a few speaking opportunities. And I tried to have some free speaking events that I was doing locally, in my town I had like, two people show up and one of them was my father-in-law and you know, so I try all sorts of stuff, but I had to do something to try and and see if some of the principles that I was trying to teach in the way that I was doing that, but at least resonate with someone and I just kept going and tried to learn from people, I hired coaches to help me get through some of this and so all sorts of imposter syndrome. And, honestly, there are plenty of times, and still sometimes are, there were days that I wanted to crawl under the desk and just hide from the world because I, my wife didn't work, we had two kids and one on the way, there was no other income coming in. And I had to figure out how to make this work, or, or nothing was gonna happen. And we had a little bit of runway, but I was I was terrified, absolutely terrified. And so I've, there's been a whole lot of self discovery and, facing fear that I've had to go through through this whole process.

Aaron Moncur:

I'm just I'm loving this story that the more I hear the more I want to ask about it. This is great. Thank you for being vulnerable, and just opening up and sharing about this. How did you find your your first client? So you're doing, you know, speaking engagements, and you're putting your name out there, and you're trying to find something? And all of a sudden, something hit? How did that happen?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, so from the very beginning, LinkedIn was kind of my place that I would be pretty consistent. As far as posting, I find that I can waste time on any social media platform, but I felt like LinkedIn was probably where things were going to resonate the most with, with what I was doing. And so I was steadily working to post regularly to reach out to new people and all sorts of things at some point. Something that I posted, someone is actually someone who his wife saw something that I posted, and she connected me with him, like, "Hey, I think you might be able to help my husband based on some things", and so I connected with him had a conversation and we set up an agreement. And this was this was an interesting thing, I don't do a lot of this now but he was someone who had graduated with his Master's in Engineering, he come over here from India, married someone, but his immigration paperwork didn't really go through on time and so there was actually a period of eight months after he graduated, but it couldn't work anywhere.

Aaron Moncur:

Oh, no.

Jeff Perry:

Right. And then, so it was like January or February of 2020, that finally he was authorized to work and he was in the process of interviews, and then the pandemic shut down. Yeah, and everything. And so he was like, I don't even know what to do now. And so we connected. And I said, "Okay, I'm new at this, but I know that there's some things I can do that can help you move through this process". So the first client, I said, if we work together, you you don't have to pay me anything until you land the job and I'm with you until you land the job. And it was a process form and I learned a lot through the process. And I was teaching him how to network and reach out to people. We optimized his resume and his LinkedIn profile, and some other things. And finally, in the end, he actually ended up with three job offers, and one that he really likes.

Aaron Moncur:

That's great

Jeff Perry:

And honestly, even though he's a first client, probably one of my most special ones. Because, I mean, he's reached out to me a few times, and just just to say, thank you and talk about some of those same principles and things that he learned, he's now able to apply in his job, where he got hired with a group of about 10 other other new people, and he's the only one who's actively networking and connecting with other people in the company, because of what he's doing. And so anyway, it's pretty cool to see just the transformation that he went through through that process, dealing with some of his personal anxieties and student loans that were coming in. And he's like, I don't know how I'm gonna pay for this. He was trying to make ends meet by working at a gas station, a minimum wage, wage job, and all sorts of process he was going through and finally made it to a good spot. So it's, it's stories like that, and some of the people that I get to work with it makes this fun.

Aaron Moncur:

Well, I think I just felt a little about why you do this, just listening to that story and hearing the success. I talked with a lot of medical device engineers, and often I asked them, why are you an engineer? Why do you do what you do? And they say, "We enjoy knowing that the products we develop are going to help people, especially within, you know, the medical device space, it's going to enrich or enhance somebody's life or possibly save somebody's life". And that seems to be a common thread among many of the engineers I talked with. Your role, you're, you're able to do the same thing you're enhancing, we're affecting someone's life, but directly, it's not going through some product unless you consider your communication the product, and you get to experience the I imagine it's, it's a, you know, on the level of intoxicating joy when you are able to help someone like that, and know that for the rest of that person's life, they're going to be able to look back and appreciate the the help that you gave them. And it's probably going to affect their life, you know, long term, not just the next few months, but maybe forever.

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, I don't know that everyone that I work with is gonna come back and like, tell stories about working with Jeff Perry to their grandkids or something like that but it really is this, this beautiful sense of joy. And I, from the very beginning, I said, "Hey, if I can create a business where I can support my family in a way, but but the work that I'm doing is I can feel the help, feel that I'm helping people and see that and be directly connected to that, that would be a beautiful thing", because I recognize that in previous jobs that I came home energized and excited about the work that I did when I felt like I really helped me serve someone at work, not just when I check something off on a process improvement, or an engineering design or something like that. Like, it's when I felt that personal connection that I really got some fulfillment out of work, and I get to try and design everything that I do now around that idea and it's, it's a blessing.

Aaron Moncur:

That's terrific. So how does the process work with you? Let's say I'm an engineer, I'm looking to make a change, maybe I'm just not feeling super motivated or maybe I feel great. I just want to be even better. I approached Jeff and I said, Jeff, here's the deal, here's the thing, I hope you can help me, what's next?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, so there's, there's a few different pieces, certainly we'd have a conversation and and I want to, in those initial conversation, I'm trying to dive in and understanding where they're at what's not working now and and what they're trying to get to. And if then if I feel like I understand the issue that's going on, and I feel like I might be a good fit to help them, we can expand on that. But there's a few different pieces to this, almost everyone that I work with, we try and set up with because the engagements that we have, there is some structure, but it also is built so can be really personalized, because every person situation where they're trying to get out of it is pretty different. And so we try and set up from the very beginning, what's their definite definition of success, you know, two or three months or more from now, after working with me what would need to happen that they feel like they got their, that their investment in working with me was worth it. Right, and so we identify that and I keep a set of notes for everyone that are working with but that stays at the top what their definition of success is. Right? So then we can go through a lot of things to do some assessments on their mindset, that's actually the foundation, some of those things, you know, I learned from the Arbinger Institute and some other researchers and some tools that I use now to help uncover where their mindset is, what they believe about themselves and other people, some things around growth mindset and stuff like that, then we kind of get into, getting clear, like career clarity on what they're trying to shoot for those things, and moving towards what they really want and identifying that. work on building their personal brand, and understanding how to communicate that then we can do all the pragmatic stuff of, you know, let's optimize the resume and the LinkedIn profile, and then talk about networking strategies, but all that's going to be much more focused, because they know what they want, and they know who they are a little bit more. And then they can start reaching out in a proactive way rather than just doing that but it's interesting because some people come to me and they first say, "Hey, I need to make a change". Sometimes people are unemployed, sometimes people are in places that they just know aren't good fits for them, or or they need to grow and they feel a little bit stuck, whatever that is but but but sometimes, I have people like like one client I said, he said, I want to find my happy place in my career. And what I'm doing is just isn't there and we thought that probably meant that he was going to need to find a new job opportunity because he wasn't enjoying himself but what actually ended up changing over the course of about three months was him. And he is able to craft and work in a much more positive way, and actually be much more happier and fulfilled in his current role and enjoy the stability and things that that provided, which actually became a much more fulfilling place for him. So he went through the personal transformation, rather than having to transform his own situation. So sometimes that happens, too. So the end goal ends up shifting sometimes, but no matter what the goal is some sort of change and transformation that people are trying to move through.

Aaron Moncur:

Wonderful. What does? Have you seen any common trends or patterns with the engineers that you've worked with? You know, maybe they're, they're struggling with with this with that? Have you seen any common patterns? And what's some of the most commonly shared advice that you give to engineers?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah. So there's, there's a few different things. On the personal side, I feel like people don't, there's plenty of people who don't take charge and ownership of their own careers, they just kind of expect that. And a lot of engineers just kind of had this over the years, if they've been in their career for a while, that kind of the next opportunity just kind of came, you know, they just did a good job, and then the next opportunity would come their way. And that works in some ways, but it's no guarantee. And so they're just kind of reactive to "Hey, you know, this opportunity came my way, seems cool". Yeah, let's take it, you know, let's move along that way. And that's okay but I find that a lot of times when people do that for a while, they realize they've been in a spot for three, four or five years or longer. And they're like, you know, I didn't actually want this and I realize this isn't actually where I want to stay but I haven't actually really thought about what I want to do yet. And so some of the things we've already talked about, like getting clear on what you want, and moving towards that. So that's, that's one thing of being proactive about that, rather than just reactive, so that's one thing. As far as if we're talking about like job searching and navigating a career transition, so many people, they think a resume is a silver bullet and if they just optimize a resume and send it out to However, many companies that are going to get a hit if because they have the perfect resume, the average job posting gets 250 applications. And you know, if they interview about five people, that's a 2% chance of even getting an interview. And that's if everything's equal, which it's not. So I tell people all the time to focus on people, focus on networking, because it's people that hire people, not job boards that hire people. And so we do need to have a great resume and LinkedIn profile so that when we're sharing those with people, people can understand as much as they can about us, and the right things about us, coming from an understanding of our personal brand. But when it comes to trying to look at look for opportunities, you know, because the data is hard to get, because it's kind of underground, there's estimations, anywhere from like 50 to 80% of jobs are filled through networking, not just through applications. If we can focus on that, then then we're gonna have a personal connection with someone, they're going to see our initiative, and the better opportunities are going to come our way and sometimes even find opportunities that are crafted just for us, because of the relationship we build with people.

Aaron Moncur:

Okay, and how do you charge for your service? I mean, is it like a standard pricing? Or I know, you said that it's very custom, depending on the person. So does it just depend on what the individual is looking for?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, so there's a few different kind of starter packages, because I've got a few different layers of resources and support people get there's an online course that I've put together, and a group coaching element where we do weekly group coaching, and then our one was, and so it just kind of scales based on the scope of what they feel they need help with, and we can, so there's a few kind of starter options that would generally do and we can be a little bit flexible in that. But the majority of people will kind of start with a two to three month engagement and then we'll go from there.

Aaron Moncur:

Very cool. How about interviewing, you help people get prepared for interviews? What do you tell them to increase their chances of being hired?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, so a lot of it is, again, coming from that understanding their personal brand and then being able to tell their story around that. So when it comes to an interview, if you're interviewing for a job, there's a problem that needs to be solved in that job, right? So they either are lacking capacity, they need some work done, maybe someone left and they need to backfill that position or maybe they need someone with some new skills in a particular technology. So it's you got to ask your questions, sometimes they give you that information in a job posting, not always, but we want to uncover what is the problem they're trying to solve and the more you can understand that, and tell your story in a way that connects to the fact that you've solved similar problems or have abilities to learn how to solve similar problems, then you can have the best chance of connecting that. There are some ways as far as how to structure your interview answers. The Star method is a very common one going through the situation when they're asking you about. Tell me about a situation when blah, blah, blah, whatever that interview question is, you focus or structure your answer in the situation, you were in, the task that you were asked to do, the action that you took, and what's the final result, what you know, what was different there was there was a problem that needed to be solved in the situation, you got to set up the story, and you got to resolve it at the end. And if we construct our ways, then people can see, "Hey, I can actually solve problems and move through the process and take actions to do things", so that's just a few quick things. I mean, but but other things, very simple things you can do like just being in a positive body language stature. And there's a lot of psychology around how we present our bodies and even smiling, even if you're on the phone, or on a zoom meeting or something like that and how we hold our bodies can actually reduce the stress hormone the cortisol levels and help us feel a little bit more confident when we're going into those situations, so we can even work on stuff like that.

Aaron Moncur:

You and I talked a little before we started the recording, and you are currently standing at the you know, stand desk or something. And we talked about how the your your presence, it changes when you're speaking while standing. You know, I don't know how that works exactly but it does. So when you're talking with potential employers considered, you know, standing while you're talking and like you said, smiling, even if they can't see you, that changes how you present yourself. We are currently hiring and I have been talking with a lot of candidates. And I love that you brought up, you know, right away your advice was figure out what the problem you're solving is. And then you know, try to tailor your communication to help the employer understand how you can solve that problem. I spoke with this guy, I feel a little bit bad sharing this don't know nothing against this guy. interviews are nervous, and they're stressful. And it's it's kind of an awkward situation. So it's it's just it's a hard situation for people to be in, especially if you're not used to being in it but this guy interviewed he spoke, he just talked for 20 minutes about him himself and what what he does what he can do, non-stop, didn't ask me once, like what we were looking for what success would look like in a new team member, he just talked straight for 20 minutes, and I just let him go is kind of like an experiment. I wanted to see how long he would go before stopping and no joke. It was 20 minutes of uninterrupted talk about himself and what he could do. And by the end of it, I was like, I that's great that you can do all these things. But how do you know that any of those things is what I want? So I love the approach of starting with what is the problem that the employer is hiring to solve? And then going from there?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, it it can make all the difference in starting that, from the very beginning, when you're trying to network with someone in that company, if that's a company you're interested in, and how you write your resume or craft other things. That's, that's a question want to have in your mind the whole way through.

Aaron Moncur:

Well, let's see. I think we'll wrap it up here in just a couple of minutes. But Jeff, what what have I not asked you that I should have asked?

Jeff Perry:

I don't know Aaron, I just feel like I'm the name of the company that I started More Than Engineering, the ethos of that is to help engineers recognize that they really are more than just an engineer. Okay, so we need to move beyond that, we're people we're friends, we're neighbors, some of us play sports, some of us you know, do music, some of us do acting or other hobbies. There's so much more to us beyond just the identity that we take on as an engineer sometimes. And and also sometimes the identities and the stereotypes around engineers and you know, they're just analytical, they're not good at working with people and some of these other things. You know, the old joke of how do you know the difference between an introverted and extroverted engineer? Well, an extroverted engineer looks at your shoes instead of their own shoes or something like that.

Aaron Moncur:

That's a good one. I hadn't heard that.

Jeff Perry:

These jokes in the stereotypes, they don't serve us. And so I want to kill them. Okay? And, help people recognize that they can be more than just that and break out of these molds and feel like they're stuck. This is who I am, and this is who I'm always going to be. We can move through these transformations, and it takes time but it's it's very much worth it. If there's something you want to change, then and you can do it. So that's kind of a parting message I want to share with everyone.

Aaron Moncur:

Excellent. All right, Jeff, how can people get a hold of you?

Jeff Perry:

Yeah, so a lot of things I talked about how I'm pretty active on LinkedIn, that's probably the best way to initially contact me just find me, Jeff Perry, or, and so we can connect there and I share a lot of stuff. I also also host a podcast called the Engineering Career Coach podcast. So you can get there that's in connection and partnership with Anthony Fasano in the Engineering Management Institute, and go to my main website at More Than-Engineering.com or go check out a little bit about my program Engineering Career Accelerator.com, that's the name of the coaching program, I run it engineering career accelerator. So that's a lot there, if people want to go check stuff out, but LinkedIn is probably the best first point of contact.

Aaron Moncur:

Fantastic, Jeff, this has been a pure delight. I never thought I'd get a chance to talk with an engineering coach and so this is like a bucket list item or something. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. This has been truly helpful.

Jeff Perry:

Aaron, it's been a pleasure. I look forward to staying connected it's and seeing some of the cool stuff you guys are doing.

Aaron Moncur:

I'm Aaron Moncur, founder of Pipeline Design and Engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team's expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at TeamPipeline.us. Thanks for listening!