Welcome to episode 228 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_) – two technology professionals with backgrounds in IT Operations and Sales Engineering on a mission to help others accelerate career progression and increase job satisfaction by bringing listeners the advice we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we share part 2 of a discussion with Scott Egbert, detailing the thought process around no longer pursuing a previous career goal, discovering his own unhappiness at work, a spark of joy that presented itself, and the decision point which led him to become a full time coach.
Original Recording Date: 03-13-2023
Scott Egbert is a leadership coach focusing on career development and transition. Scott helps people who are dissatisfied with their career find joy, and there are a number of examples of this we can discuss. If you missed it, go check out part 1 of our discussion with Scott in Episode 227
Topics – A Noticeable Transition, Signs of Unhappiness, Decision Point, Patterns from the Coaching Practice
3:40 – A Noticeable Transition
- Scott reached a point about 10 years into moving toward his goal of business unit CFO where something changed. In one particular role he worked closely enough with a business unit CFO to realize he didn’t want that job.
- "And I think it’s good to realize what you don’t want to do, but I didn’t replace that with a different goal. And so I really started on a drift." – Scott Egbert on realizing business unit CFO was not the job he wanted
- What we referred to as Scott’s reverse timeline for the job he had wanted was cast aside. He shifted his attention to a role in finance that looked both interesting and fun. The role was a knowledge management program manager.
- Scott had neither knowledge management system experience nor program management experience. It looked quite interesting and was quite different than his previous reverse timeline goal for business unit CFO.
- Scott landed the role and had a blast doing it. He was able to work with a lot of different people he would not have otherwise worked with in HR and IT.
- Scott says this allowed him to use the other side of his brain (something different from the qualitative work he did previously).
- After a couple of years in the program management role, Scott found his way to the venture capital arm of Intel (continuing to drift as he says).
- In this role he gained experience with equity and mergers and acquisitions (almost full circle from having the initial experience with this when he was an engineer).
- Scott finally reached the point of drifting into a role that was not for him. Looking back he feels it was bound to catch up with him at some point.
- Scott remembers waking up one morning wondering what he was doing in the role he was in, how he got there, and why he took it in the first place. He felt very much like a fish out of water.
- Scott at this point went back to a career coach through alumni services at his business school and asked for help.
- The career coach spent time interviewing Scott and had him complete a career assessment. She relayed back to him that his interest and passion was all around people.
- Scott mentions he had also been doing a great deal of mentoring up to this point. *"It makes sense that you’re not really interested in finance anymore. Because it’s not about the numbers and the projects. It’s about helping people and elevating people….Have you ever thought about working in HR?" – Advice from Scott’s career coach
- Scott had a negative connotation associated with HR (human resources), feeling they were often brought in to do the dirty work when you have a problem. The coach had to educate Scott on the fact that HR personnel often do manager and leadership development training.
- As a result of the career coach’s advice, Scott started looking at HR roles.
- Around this time Scott learned his company had a coaching program. He had just taken a 3-day course on coaching for excellence and loved it. Scott says he caught the bug.
- This time Scott went and talked to people doing the job he thought he wanted (coaching), asking questions like…
- What does it take to get certified to be a coach?
- What is a day in the life like once you have the credentials and get the job?
- Scott reiterates the career assessment was a benefit for alumni of his former business school.
- "Don’t rely on any assessment in isolation to tell you what you should do when you grow up. They all have very good information, but none of them are perfect." – Scott Egbert, advice for those seeking career guidance through assessments
- The career assessment Scott took looked at passions and skills as well as experiences and preferences.
- Nick admires the fact that Scott was open to hearing more about HR as a possible option despite how we might stereotype the role. Nick also says he worked with some wonderful people in his previous role working for an HR services company.
- The intersection of passion and skills is very interesting to John, and he emphasizes the importance of the overlap with it being something people will pay for if you plan to make a career out of it.
- Scott emphasizes passions don’t necessarily pay (an important thing to keep in mind). And there are many books on the topic.
- Maybe this is a return interview with Scott?
11:49 – Signs of Unhappiness
- There were other indicators Scott was unhappy while he was at Intel Capital.
- After being there for around 8 years, he became reasonably good at getting things accomplished and knew the right people.
- Scott feels like he allowed himself to get pretty comfortable and wasn’t super passionate about what he was doing any longer. He liked his role and found it interesting. The startup world requires a lot of learning, which Scott really liked.
- Scott’s wife made the following comment in observation – "when you talk about work, I don’t see any joy." At the time, Scott got pretty defensive.
- The defensiveness was an excuse in Scott’s mind.
- Scott’s perspective at the time was that relatively few people get to do work about which they are super passionate and get paid. He thought of it then as an unrealistic expectation. Getting paid to do some kind of work (even if it doesn’t bring you joy) was a realistic expectation.
- Scott talks a lot about limiting beliefs in his coaching practice. His limiting belief was that people who have joy in their work was those who work for a nonprofit or work in ministry, or in other words, people who work in regular corporate jobs didn’t have joy.
- Scott’s wife didn’t just bring this up once. It came up multiple times, and Scott continued to be defensive. He eventually began to think on it a bit deeper (i.e. whether something better was out there).
- Scott took that first coaching class and then went into the certification program while working full time. The program was quite rigorous and lasted about 9 months. Scott tells us it was hard work, but he loved every minute of it.
- In the course, there were periods of instruction followed by encouraging students like Scott to go out and coach people using what was learned. Scott mentioned a requirement to spend 50 hours coaching.
- "And I loved every minute of it. I still do." – Scott Egbert, reflecting back on taking a coaching certification course
- When Scott was telling his wife about the course and what he was going, it was obvious the joy had been missing. Scott says as usual, his wife was right.
- Nick thinks the excitement allows you to flex up for a time to do something like this even if it’s a great deal of extra work.
- John wonders if the excitement and joy in this case was just from the coaching, from learning something new, or maybe a combination of those?
- It seemed like earlier in Scott’s finance career he was still riding a learning curve (i.e. developing expertise in an area out of necessity) and continuing to enjoy things. John spots a potential pattern!
- This goes back to Scott’s earlier comment about getting bored easily. He has always loved learning despite not particularly liking school starting at a young age.
- Scott has always enjoyed the learning and ramping into a new role. There is an element of challenge and expansion in this.
- Scott really enjoyed the learning with getting into coaching and still enjoys it as he continues in that field. It’s also about being able to make a difference with the people Scott coaches and watching them grow. Identifying a person’s limiting beliefs and helping them break through is at the core of coaching. Scott finds helping people with the "really tough stuff" extremely rewarding.
18:13 – Decision Point
- Is Hudson (the source of Scott’s training) just one methodology / framework for leadership coaching?
- Scott cannot speak to all of the other coaching schools and how they are different, but a big emphasis from the Hudson school of thought is the idea of leading from behind.
- One question Scott gets early on when coaching people is about the difference between a coach and a mentor.
- A mentor is usually a subject matter expert in a specific area that one would seek out to be more skilled in that area. This creates a directive relationship (i.e. "let me tell you how to get better in that"). A really good mentor may give you the opportunity to experiment and learn on your own, but it’s still a pairing of expert and non-expert.
- "As a coach, I’m not the expert. You’re the expert on you, and nobody knows you better than you do. But I’m managing a process." – Scott Egbert, on being a coach
- Scott seeks to understand a person’s goals and be an objective 3rd party. He can help people gain clarity to set goals if needed, encouraging and challenging people along the way. A coach isn’t telling you what to do but rather leading you through a process (or "leading from behind"). You are the one taking the steps to make progress toward your goals.
- What about the process of deciding to become a coach full time?
- Scott says there was a timing element at play. He was coaching on the side in addition to his day job.
- Ideally Scott wanted to become a leadership coach at his employer after finishing the coaching certification, but the opportunity wasn’t there at the time.
- Scott had to determine if he wanted to keep doing his day job and coaching on the side or take the plunge and do the work that would be most fulfilling to him.
- It was not an easy decision but goes back to values and priorities and where are person is in their life. If you are married, this is not a decision to make on your own!
- "In my case, my wife was pushing me pretty strongly in the direction of ‘you need to go do what you love.’ I kind of had the green light, and together we felt like the time was right." – Scott Egbert, on making the decision to become a full time coach
- Scott is still on the marketing learning curve now that he’s into coaching full time. He wishes he would have taken some classes in marketing back in business school.
- Through his finance journey, there wasn’t a real need for Scott to learn about marketing and client acquisition.
- John thinks starting a podcast is a terrific way to advertise a business much like some of our past guests who got into coaching, for example. Podcasting became a large part of that, but it is a lot of work (as John and Nick can attest to).
- One of the things Scott is trying to provide for himself in all of this is permission to "throw some spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks." He’s not had or created the freedom to experiment in this way until this point in his career.
- "I’m going in knowing full well that there are some things that I’m trying that are not going to pan out, and maybe there are some things that I’m not considering that would be productive." – Scott Egbert
- Nick says Scott is jut walking the profit and loss statement and trying to figure out how to invest in research and development and how much to invest in sales and marketing (which seems logical).
- John was thinking about Kristen Carder who was a guest of ours in Episode 216 and Episode 217. She has an entire practice coaching people with ADHD and is also host of the I Have ADHD Podcast.
- Kristen told us she went looking for podcasts on ADHD and didn’t like any of them. Kristen eventually realized she had to fill the gap which originally caused her to start searching (i.e. she had to be the one to build it).
- Scott says he will definitely check out Kristen’s work as he has multiple kids with ADHD.
- The Kristen Carder episodes are excellent for anyone thinking about starting a business that revolves around consulting / teaching / coaching / mentoring (just one example from our catalog).
- Nick encourages listening to the Cait Donovan series we did as well (Episode 214 and Episode 215). Cait’s focus is on burnout, coaching, and public speaking. She is the host of FRIED: The Burnout Podcast.
- John says a podcast can meet the needs of listeners who are already searching for answers to their problems. For people who need the content discussed on something like a podcast specifically tailored to them, that is an opportunity for new coaching clients. John mentions this kind of platform might give you the chance to do some speaking on a topic.
26:41 – Patterns from the Coaching Practice
Since starting his coaching practice, what types of patterns is Scott seeing as relates to areas where people need help?
- When speaking with other people who did coaching for a living during his certification program, Scott was advised to "find his niche" or the area where he wanted to specialize as a coach. At the time he had no idea because he was just getting started.
- Fast forwarding to now, Scott is seeing a recurring theme of people who are stuck in their career, and as a result he feels career development and transition seems to be an area where a lot of people need help.
- The above struggle manifests itself in different ways. A few examples would be the following (each of which point to being stuck in a career and unsure of how to take the next step forward).
- A person passed up for promotion multiple times who sees it as more than just their manager (i.e. something within themselves that needs work)
- The consistent high performer who is burned out
- Someone who has been doing a job / work they once loved but feel they have lost it and don’t know how to get it back
- This ties in well with the reason Nerd Journey came to be. After Nick and John made career moves they looked back and realized where they came from were not dead ends but that they could have been.
- You could potentially end up moving around in a role, making smaller steps than you might want.
- "The treadmill is slowly moving backward so you have to constantly expend effort just to stay level because that’s the technology world." – John White
- If you work in IT Operations you cannot just stop learning, pick a technology, and coast.
- Neither Nick nor John have been through formalized coaching programs like Scott did, but it’s an interesting idea for sure. Should one of them try it? Scott would be a great person to ask for advice here.
What about advice for those looking to change careers in high tech during times of layoff and a little uncertainty?
- Maybe you should get a career coach!
- There’s something to the idea of not going on this kind of journey alone but having someone who can walk with you on it and be a sounding board for ideas. If you don’t have a coach, find someone you can talk to about the change and what you are trying to do.
- Scott tells us he cannot emphasize professional networking enough for the career changers listening. Find people in your network today and beyond who are doing the type of work you’re seeking to do. What does a day in that job look like?
- "If you’re going to embark on a career change you want to be as well informed as you can be." – Scott Egbert
- If career progression is important to you, find out what career progression in your new target field looks like, what balance looks like, and what security looks like (job and financial).
- Do you have to work investment banker hours to succeed? Be sure to find out!
If you’d like to get in touch with Scott…
- Scott posts regularly on LinkedIn and has a weekly newsletter.
- If you want to have a free conversation with Scott about coaching or to get some general advice / have him act as a sounding board for something you’re thinking of doing, you can use this link to schedule.
- LinkedIn is likely the place you would find any future podcast Scott might choose to start. That could start a whole new reverse timeline. Be sure to follow Scott to monitor his progress!
Mentioned in the outro
- Nick doesn’t see a big issue chasing something that seems interesting and fun even if you don’t have a clear long term goal.
- John mentions the rotational culture where Scott worked and the inevitability of getting into a role you may not like so much. And we forgot to ask Scott if people in the rotation got to ask to stay in a role they liked and not be rotated out!
- We cannot always see in ourselves that we have lost the joy in our work until someone points it out (as Scott’s wife did).
- There’s a meta lesson here in a future coach seeking out a coach for guidance. Scott got help from a coach who encouraged him to pursue human resources (which Scott nearly ended up doing).
- John really enjoyed hearing about the patterns Scott was seeing in his coaching (people getting stuck but not knowing how to move forward). People don’t necessarily realize they are in the situation of being stuck unless someone points it out to them (i.e. a coach or someone else in their life).
- We’ve interviewed at least 3 other coaches (Kristen Carder, Cait Donovan, Brett Hill) on the show.
- Nick doesn’t see a big issue chasing something that seems interesting and fun even if you don’t have a clear long term goal.