August 30, 2023

Finding Wealth in Relationships: A Customer-Centric Approach to Presales Engineering with Gene Torres (DF#112)

Finding Wealth in Relationships: A Customer-Centric Approach to Presales Engineering with Gene Torres

Unlocking the Potential of Interpersonal Connections

In this week’s episode, Gene Torres, a Senior Presales Engineer, shares his personal journey and valuable insights into the world of presales engineering. We dive into the importance of continuously seeking new opportunities and not settling in your career.

Key Discussion Points:

- Overcoming Stereotypes: Gene discusses his initial hesitation about pursuing a career in sales due to negative stereotypes. However, he ultimately found his passion in presales engineering, where he could make a difference by solving problems and evangelizing solutions for customers.
- The Role of a Presales Engineer: Gene explains the vital role of presales engineers in building relationships with customers and showcasing how technical solutions align with their specific requirements. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the customer's industry and aligning the solution to improve outcomes for their business.
- Challenges and Rewards: Gene shares the rewarding experience of overcoming challenges in his role and the value of knowledge sharing. He highlights the diverse career possibilities and the need for continuous growth and learning in the ever-changing job market.
- The Data Protection Industry: Gene provides insights into the data protection industry and how his company, Zerto, specializes in providing disaster recovery software. He highlights the importance of helping companies avoid data loss and disruptions to their business, which can impact revenue and consumer perception.
- Building Relationships and Trust: Gene emphasizes the crucial role of building relationships with customers and becoming a trusted advisor. He explains the technical aspects of Zerto's software and how it protects virtual systems in the virtualization environment.
- Exploring Opportunities: Gene discusses the importance of exploring opportunities related to one's interests and skills, highlighting the lack of a formal blueprint for becoming a presales engineer. He encourages listeners to set goals and seek new challenges in their career journeys.

Tune in to this week’s episode and gain valuable insights from Gene Torres, as he shares his personal experiences and advice for aspiring presales engineers in the dynamic and ever-evolving tech industry.

Enjoy the episode!

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Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Gene Torres [00:00:00]:

Don't settle for what you're doing. Like, think about what's around you, what you touch every day. There are things out there that you can branch out into and get and get good there's always a way out of what you're doing. Like, if you work in a kitchen, you know, you really like these knives, go work for the knife company, you know, help influence the way they're they're made, help show people why there's value in these knives over these knives. There's always a way, you know, and sometimes I fall victim to it like everybody else. It's like even nowadays, it's like, what's next?

Ryan Maruyama [00:00:31]:

Hello, folks, and welcome back to degree free where we teach you how to get hired without a college degree. I'm your host, Ryan Maruyama. And before we get into today's episode, if you would like to receive a short email every week, detailing different degree free jobs, degree free tips to get you hired and get you out of the job that you're in and into a new career. then go over to degreefree.coforward/newsletter and sign up for our free weekly newsletter. Now on to today's guest, I am super excited to have on today, Jean Torres. Jean is the senior presales engineer at Zerto. We get into a whole bunch of things including what a senior presales engineer even is because prior to knowing Jean, I didn't even know that this job existed. So I was very excited for this conversation. We get into everything including what the job is, how he got there, and different things that you can do to get there yourself. We also cover sales in general and some of the other targets that you could look at and look forward to once you become a sales engineer. This is a very wide ranging episode. I think you're gonna get a lot of value out of it, especially if you had no idea what a sales engineer is. I am really excited for you to hear this conversation because goes over everything that a sales engineer does. And it gives you just another glimpse of different opportunities, different job roles, that are out there that you can get. As usual, you can get links to everything that we talk about including how to connect with Jean atdegreefree.coforward/ podcast. Without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Jean Torres.

Gene Torres [00:02:16]:

What would make this successful for me is that people hear it, and it opens doors for them where it gives them ideas of, you know, where to progress from where they're at. because where I'm at, depending on the industry you're in again, right, it's it's where you are, what you're doing, and what's next. Like, is this it? And that and for a long time, but for me, it was like, Is this it? I don't wanna get into management and start becoming a politician in a in an enterprise. I want to solve problems. I want to, you know, evangelize solutions and and stuff like that. So I it took me a while to get into what I'm doing because it is sales and you know, from my own personal experience, salespeople, you know, knocking door to door, you go buy a car, you know, they're they're trying to sell you something. To be honest, they're looking at their own best interest. Bottom line, that's what it comes down to. I mean, yeah, they care about your business. and what you do, but at the end of the day, it's a job. And, I was just like, I don't know if I really wanna take this step because I don't wanna become that. I don't wanna lose touch with what I do, what I love doing, what I'm passionate about, and just treat it as a, you know, like an income stream.

Ryan Maruyama [00:03:30]:

Yeah. Well, when you're talking about that, like, I think it just makes sense actually to start with that. Everybody, this is Jean Torres. Jean is the senior solutions engineer at Zerto. Jean, thanks so much for making the time.

Gene Torres [00:03:44]:

Yeah. No problem.

Ryan Maruyama [00:03:45]:

When you were talking about, you know, you don't want to go down that route. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by that. Can you clarify, like, where you are right now is not where you wanna be or when you were back then thinking about becoming you know, a presales engineer. Can you elaborate on that?

Gene Torres [00:04:06]:

Yeah. So it was back before I got into it before I took the step I did weigh all my weigh all the options out. Like, where can I go? What would the next step be? I have a lot of friends in me just the the jump into cells, and and we call it the dark side, right, of IT. and, you know, and it it was just like just my personal experiences, you know, being on the consumer end of the sale. It's always been like someone is trying to push me into making this decision. They're trying to convince me that this is the right decision to make, and they make it sound good. And then at the end of the day, you know, if I get sucked into it and I end up going with it, if I don't weigh all the options out, pros, the cons, you know, the value and and everything. If there's no value there and I just went impulsively into it, then I I get some sense of guilt, then I just get a bad taste on my mouth or salespeople. You weren't looking out for me. You're looking out for you. You know? At the end of the day, I have the money and you want me to give it to you. So, yeah, that that was like where I didn't wanna get. So I wanted to make sure that what I got into was something that I was gonna grow into and love, and it wasn't only gonna benefit me, but it was gonna benefit the people that I did it for. The company I worked for, but also the customers. That's kinda what I set out on my mission for is getting into this role that I need to be the voice of the customer because I was a customer, and I got a ton of experience being in their shoes and living in their world that I know what to look for. And what's funny about this is when you're on the customer end and you're very technical, you know that the solution needs to be. Let's say 80 percent of the time, 85 percent of the time, maybe. That solution, even if it's the right solution, isn't necessarily what the business buys. and then you gotta live with it. So being on the other side, I was like, seeing that they listen to the sales teams in in delivering this value, this solution, and not so much the people that are on their own team, maybe I can make a difference this way. You know, I can't do it here, but maybe if I circumvent this whole process and come from the outside in with my background in in in IT, that would make a difference. And it's it's proven to to work out that way. You know, like me being a former customer, it almost immediately establishes trust with the customer teams. you know, and that's that's how I approach sales, when I do it, and that's why I'm doing the the engineering side of sales, the the technical side of sales.

Ryan Maruyama [00:06:35]:

Yeah. Absolutely. It's interesting because as we were talking about offline prior to us meeting, I had no idea that your job existed. And the way that I view my job is really to know all jobs that are out there so that I can educate the people that listen to this because I say it all the time. If you don't have a goal, If you don't have a target, then you don't know what to shoot for. You can't make a plan to get there. And so I am really excited to get into what a presales engineer is, what you do, what that job looks like, but before that, I did wanna comment on a couple of the things that you were saying there, which was, you know, prior to going into sales myself, You know, I felt like I had that same conversation with myself. And I was just like, I had a general allergy to sales. That's what I used to tell people. Actually, I was just like, I'm just like allergic to sales people. I do not want to go to the car dealership and deal with car salesmen I don't wanna go to, you know, like Chinatown or the Asian market where there's no prices, and then you gotta hang you know, and you're saying, just give me a price tag here. Like, I don't wanna do it. And so For me, when I went to the dark side myself, I was just like, it's come to this, but I felt the same way that you did, which is I found a way to see value in the product that I was selling. And if you see value in products that you're selling, then I can see that it is ethical to help people understand the value of your product and how it can fit in to your life if you're selling b to c, business to consumer, and then b to b, you know, within your organization, business to business. I was just like, now that I am a salesperson or salesman, am I gonna get, like, super sleazy and get, like, a grease haircut and, you know, like, start start wrestling people out of their lunch money.

Gene Torres [00:09:04]:

That's funny. That it just pops into my head whenever I hear the word salesperson. it's like sleazy because that's kind of the stereotype they've been given, you know, whether it's in movies or or personal experience for people. it's it's this sleazy used car salesman. Right? So there's there's that. And you just gotta make sure that you're getting into what you're getting into for the right reasons. Right? and for me getting into it, it's it's, first of all, the places, you know, there's there's so many vendors you can go to. Manufacturers you can go to. that sell different things that some of them sell similar things that do different things. They they differentiate from each other. And it really comes down to, you know, what Am I passionate about what can I make clear to people? And for me specifically, it's I got into data protection or disaster recovery software. and from personal experience, I know what a disaster at my organization feels like. I've been through it. I don't hear people talking about it anymore, but it used to be a badge of honor when you, oh, oh, remember that downtime or that outage we had? And we were off for 36 hours straight. I'm like, I don't ever wanna remember that. Like, anything I can do to prevent other people from experiencing that Let's go. Let's do it. So that's why I ended up at the company I'm at right now is because we're we're we're doing something to innovate and modernize how people look at disaster recovery, how they look at data protection.

Ryan Maruyama [00:10:29]:

It's interesting. You know, I've never been on the receiving end of, like, disaster recovery or anything. Like, I've never had a massive data failure or anything like that go down. But I have been in the business of recovering from disaster, put it, like, literally putting fires out I'm I used to be a firefighter in a in another life. I believe what it is there that you're talking about is that commodity amongst people when, like, literally shit hits the fan. And you're just like, oh my god. What do we do? And then because of that, You guys all have, like, a unified goal and a named enemy, and you all band seats just for a very, very brief period. the entire organization comes together, and it's just like, we're all fingers on keyboards for the next 36 hours. We gotta get this figured out. It's one of those things that if you get out of it on the other end, you're like, wow. That was awesome. Right? Like, we can we can really do that. Let's never do that again.

Gene Torres [00:11:29]:

Yeah. Yeah. Or it's like, we learned a whole lot from this experience, and it's a kind of knowledge you don't get by just simulating. Like, when you're in the moment, when things are happening, adrenaline's going, you know, bring the caffeine out. We need the energy we need the focus, you know, like, all that stuff. Someone's coordinating, you know, someone's kind of the puppeteer orchestrating everyone. Like, what are you doing? What are you doing? I need to do this first. You do that. it's really interesting how that all plays out. I mean, it's never fun, but when you look at it, you know, you look back at it. They're like war stories. You know, it's like, we did that. You know, we went through that we accomplished. We we beat that enemy. We beat that adversary. So it's you know, rewarding at the end because now you have all this knowledge that you can share with people, and that's, you know, kind of leading it again into why I got into what I got into and and why I'm doing what I'm doing is because I have that experience and that knowledge to share knowing all that stuff, knowing how something can fell this way versus it can fell this way and knowing how to fix either scenario doesn't do any anybody any good if it's just stuck in my head, and I don't tell anybody about it. So a lot of it has to do with knowledge sharing as well and and kind of guiding people, you know, mostly like the the teaching the fish method

Ryan Maruyama [00:12:45]:

Yeah. Absolutely. So going back to senior presales engineer, senior solutions engineer, We were talking offline and those titles seemingly they are interchangeable. What does your job look like, or what does a senior presales engineer

Gene Torres [00:13:09]:

do? Great question. So a senior presales engineer, now I didn't really fully understand this until maybe about a couple years before I made the jump that me too. Like, do they exist? Like, what do they exist to do? You know, I always saw the presales engineer who came in and talked to me as the technical guy that I can call to just throw some ideas at and and bounce it off of him and and or her and see if I'm going down the right path. When I finally figured out what a pre sales engineer did, it was more they're part of a sales team where you've got the account executive or account manager, those two terms are pretty interchangeable. That's the relationship builder. That's the person who comes in and and say, I've got these wearers, you know, the trench coat. They open up. They see all the the cool little things. Let me take you out to lunch. Let me take you out to dinner. You know, let's talk about this over some drinks. That's kind of what the salesperson, that's not only what they do, but that's kind of the role they play is the relationship builder. So where I focus is more on the technical side of things. So I am the one that needs to show that I meet all your technical requirements. Our software meets all your technical requirements, but it doesn't stop there. It's You know, if if you really are a curious person and a lot of engineers are curious by nature, I wanna understand how this business works. I wanna understand who the end customer is. For example, if I'm working on selling a solution to a hospital, I'm not selling to people on the internet buying stuff from them. I'm selling them something that is going to benefit or provide better patient outcomes. because at the end of the day, they exist to serve patients to save lives and help people out. So what I need to do is align to how my solution is going to improve those outcomes for their patients. It does help to understand and and research into different industries, but going back to what I do, it's a whole organization. It's not just my account executive going and knocking on doors or cold calling people. We have a team of what we call account development representatives. We have a marketing team who schedules us to go these events. They gather leads from the events. The the account development reps call them, and then they qualify in or out whether this is a fit or not. If it's a fit, it comes to us. We reach out. Then we start building the relationship and going down that path of understanding their business and their needs.

Ryan Maruyama [00:15:44]:

Excellent. Excellent. And for those listening, that is a very good, concise short explanation of the sales process in general, but especially btobenterprise sales. That is amazing. And it's something that Honestly, we haven't ever covered on the degree of free podcast. So I'm thank you for breaking that down. But for you and what your job is as the presales engineer as the solutions engineer. Basically, You're in the data protection world. Right? We've established that you help companies avoid massive data loss. Is it am I am I understanding that correctly?

Gene Torres [00:16:27]:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's it's not only massive data loss. It's also disruption to their business. So, I mean, if you guys have probably heard like the colonial pipeline went down for a while, you know, sometimes the cloud goes down. So even like Instagram and those guys go down. Why isn't this working? So there's disruptions to business and they affect consumers' views of those businesses if they're not available because now we live in this world where you're expected to be running 20 fourseven accessible on the net. accessible. Like, if I can't get you via email or phone, I'm gonna go to Twitter and blast you so you respond immediately kind of thing. It's almost kinda like what that world delivered to us was just that instant gratification. It's like, now I I don't mail someone a letter and wait for them to respond. If if you don't respond to my text, right away. I'm gonna be like, what's up? Why aren't you responding to my text? So when it comes to disruptions, there's there's a number of things happen to these businesses, you know, like, 1st and foremost thing is loss of revenue. The revenue stream stops, especially if they're in sales. Could you imagine if Amazon goes down, how much money they make per back in per minute, like, how much they lose if they were down for, like, an hour or 24 hours. Massive. Right? So one of the goals of what we do in our industry is protect that from happening or bring them back up much faster than any traditional solution. And that's specifically what the company I I work for, Zerto, does is we build disaster recovery software designed to provide our customers with the least amount of data loss and the shortest time to recover. So we're talking about resuming business in a matter of minutes maybe hours depending on scale versus days or weeks or months in some cases depending on the type disruption.

Ryan Maruyama [00:18:12]:

Excellent. Where you fit in as the presales engineer, what does it look like when you're going through the sales process? So are you setting up, like, an instance of, like, dummy account with, like, some dummy data and showing them that? or are they giving you a list of requirements of, like, this is how our infrastructure is built, and here are the requirements that you have to have in order to implement your technology into it. What is, like, your actual job look like?

Gene Torres [00:18:43]:

Yeah. So so let me take you through the process of, like, an opportunity. Right? So we'll get the lead. We'll establish the communication with the customer. We'll find out they have an existing project to either introduce a disaster recovery strategy or augment or innovate on it, right, make it better. And so once we start down that path, we start with a discovery call because we can't go in and just, you know, start spewing speeds and feeds without understanding at first what this environment looks like? Is it truly gonna fit into that environment? And is there truly a problem we can solve? Our first call is usually discovery call and then our point presentation overview of our company, what we do, you know, how we differentiate. just real high level for the business leaders to understand. And then from there, you know, we'll reschedule a call, bring their technical team in, and they'll explain to us what they do today, know, where some of the gaps are, where the pain points are, what it solves, what it doesn't. And then, again, it's it's almost like a discovery call. But we're now getting more detail where where we need to fit into and and really sculpting our message to them and and deliver, you know, like, This is where the value is. This is where you are. This is what you're going to have. During that, there's also where, you know, a point where I get on, and it's it's kind of the gene show. Right? the presales engineer show where I walk them through technically what makes this work and why it's different. Part of it is I need to establish first that they understand what we do before I just start going into it because if I don't establish that baseline, I'm gonna lease people And they're gonna think it's something else, and they're gonna say, Oh, well, we already have this. I'm like, well, that's not what we do. So if if we get to that point, then I missed a step somewhere. So, A lot of it is just really taking the time to listen and ask a lot of questions. So that's really what it is in order to successfully do what I'm doing you have to ask a lot of questions. You need to understand other people's business. You know, like, yeah, a lot of people say minor own business, but in this world, you have to mind other people's business. and you have to become a part of it almost. At at a certain point throughout this relationship we're building, my goal is to become a trusted advisor for my customers. And once I get to that level, I've established a great relationship. They can call me. I can call them. We can have conversations. I'll even go out to lunch with them once in a while and see how they're doing. So it's it's not just like getting in and selling, closing, and moving on. We're looking to establish long term relationships.

Ryan Maruyama [00:21:11]:

When you are initially having these discovery calls, you know, your first, your second ones. It's seemingly due to the pretty integral nature of your software. I'm imagining that you're having conversations with pretty high level people. Like, what are the roles? What are the titles of these people that you're speaking to? Is it like CTOs? Are they vice presidents? Or what does it look like?

Gene Torres [00:21:35]:

Another great question. My old life You would never see me talking directly to a CIO or a VP. I'd be talking to a manager and who who then pulls me into a conversation with my director. And then he goes and you know, he's the face of us. But being on on the pre sell side, it varies. Sometimes we'll talk to systems administrators. Sometimes we'll talk to the CIO of a company. If the company is small enough and the CEO is involved, you know, sometimes the CEO would be on a call. But pretty typically, we try to establish the relationship as high as possible because they are the ones who are driving the business, and they have the business need that we need to technically solve. I found the whole time I've been doing this over time. I've just found out how if you start at the bottom, it's a lot harder to work your way up because those people don't have access to the people up above that make the business decisions. So we always try to start with the leadership What is your business need? What are you trying to solve? What's gonna benefit your business? And then we work down. Once we understand the business need, then we start getting into the technical teams and and what's gonna make them look successful and how we're gonna make, you know, like, how we're gonna fit into their environment. So it can go either way, but we prefer to always start with a business in mind because at the end of the day, it's it's them who make the decisions, who pay the bills, who buy the stuff, you know, and we just need to align to that.

Ryan Maruyama [00:22:59]:

This is a little bit of a technical question, or we're getting a little bit in the weeds here, but I'm curious for myself. With your solution that you're selling, are you selling it for the entire business and everything that they do, or sometimes are you guys just selling it for a specific portion? Like, let's say they have a couple of different products and are you just selling it for this product and you're just implementing it there.

Gene Torres [00:23:24]:

So we sell specifically to virtual environments. So over gosh, since, like, 2003 is when I started getting into virtualization. So traditionally, you'd have these rack mounted big beast computers. Right? They then you install Windows on it. You put an application on it. That's your application. And then over time, it's scaled. So you need multiple instances of those physical machines stacked in a rack, filling a data center to support that one application. So when virtualization came around, all that was abstracted and made virtual because processors got more cores, they got faster, you know, systems were able to be populated with more resources, it no longer made sense to put one thing on one physical piece of hardware. now we can cram so many things in to share those resources and and be more efficient with the resources and power. So Getting in virtualization, the company that I work for design software specifically to address disaster recovery in that world, because they saw that was where the market was headed. You know, they, they called it. That's exactly where we ended up. So what a lot of businesses did where they took a lot of these bare metal systems and they virtualized them, turned them into these virtual computers. basically and put them on these what we call hypervisors. Hypervisors are basically schedulers of resources, memory, CPU, and stuff. So you can put multiple virtual machines in there and they share resources, they schedule time for the resources, allowing businesses to take their production applications, their critical business applications and put them on there, but then they need to protect it. So once once they start protecting it, they can quickly recover it So we kind of go along with the way technology is going. So fast forward to, I don't know, 2014, 2015. A lot more people are, you know, they're hearing about the cloud. So the cloud is a really big virtualization environment, basically. Everything is abstracted and and virtualized networking, storage, you'll compute, all that stuff. So our software will protect, basically, take a copy of those systems running in one location. replicate them to a secondary or tertiary site, maybe simultaneously, so that if your main production site and applications go down, we just bring them up Our software is usually considered, you know, it's it's your business critical systems to start with. You know, what what do you absolutely need to to continue running business? you give us those. You tell us how many of it. We give you a license for it. You protect them. It goes down. You recover it, and then you can replicate it back and put it back where it came from once fixed. So that's really what we do, and and we don't address physical systems, although there are still a lot of physical systems out there. So we were a subset the data center. You know, we don't touch networking equipment. It's all purely virtual compute workloads that run a business. the applications that run the business. So so we we protect them. We recover them. We put them back and or we migrate them from, like, say, someone wants to get out of the data center and move to the cloud and run everything in the cloud, then we can help them get there. We can help them get back. typically, if you go to the cloud for anyone listening, doesn't already know, things get really expensive really fast because now you're on a a consumption model very much like your power meter.

Ryan Maruyama [00:26:36]:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I love this because like we talked about, I didn't know this is that this job existed or at least presales engineer, And then now that we're getting more into the nitty gritty of actually what you do and what your company does, a lot of people, myself included, You know, when you're trying to make a big career change and you don't know anything other than the industry that you're in, It's so difficult to think. Like, I want to do something else, but I don't know what's out there. What you just said to me, if you had told me that 10 years ago, my eyes would have glazed over. And I would have been like, this is magic. Like, This

Gene Torres [00:27:16]:

--

Ryan Maruyama [00:27:17]:

Yeah. -- this this doesn't even make like, I don't even know what you just said, but at least for those listening to this, they have an idea. Like, these are businesses. Right? Like, even though you can't see with your own two eyes, anything that your business does, not really at least. Right? I'm sure you guys have an office somewhere. But other than that, the whole business is completely virtual. And, you know, it's it's it's all of your IP that makes your business and and your implementation of that IP that makes your business valuable for people that have no idea and you're coming, like, from my background, somebody that was a bartender and a server at a restaurant or working retail, literally in the physical space, To even think that your back end system, the point of sale system that you're using, that there's software back there that you know, people are thinking about and backing up these critical things. I had no idea. And so I'm super excited to talk about it. So thank you for giving us that really that really detailed overview.

Gene Torres [00:28:19]:

Yeah. Yeah. No problem. But, yeah, when it comes to deciding, you know, where to go from where you're at, it's really like, think about what you're doing, what you're good at. and what you love most about what it is. Because more than likely, you're you're doing something where you're touching multiple things. You're touching different products. You're touching different technologies. you may gravitate toward, you know, one or the other, or you might have really strong skills in 1, like a point of sale system, for example, in a restaurant, you're the person in the restaurant that everyone calls when they can't figure out the point of sale system. You have something there, you know. So, and there there are those point of sale system manufacturers and customers or or or companies that make the software for it that hire people that do what I do. So there's always a way out of what you're doing. Like, if you work in a kitchen, you know, you really like these knives. Go work for the knife company, you know. help influence the way they're they're made, help show people why there's value in these knives over these knives. There's always a way, you know, and sometimes I've dates into it like everybody else. It's like, even nowadays, it's like, what's next? You know, and and that's, you know, that's just my nature. It's like, if I get to some point and I feel like it's not as challenging anymore. I'm not seeing anything new, then I'm already like, how can I take this and do something that's gonna give me more growth opportunity? So, yeah, it's just like, I I would just say to to listeners, like, don't settle for what you're doing. Like, think about what's around you, what you touch every day. There are things out there that you can branch out into and get and get good at.

Ryan Maruyama [00:29:47]:

It's awesome that you say that because I totally agree with you for 1. regarding the, you know, point of sale system or working for the knife manufacturing company. One of the things I've realized once we started doing this degree free thing and having guests on and talking to the people that listen to this podcast and people that are trying to change their lives is that you don't know what you don't know. and it's so difficult to educate yourself and to again gain the knowledge of things you don't know about. But one of the things that you can do is exactly what you did. And what we call it is called vocational creativity, and it's basically doing exactly what you said. We did an entire podcast episode for those listening on it. You I'll put it in the show notes degreefree.co4/ podcast for those listening. And it's exactly what you said. Like, POS system? Okay. Well, let's let's look that up. Like, a very popular point of sale system is Aloha for restaurants or toast now or clover. you can just go on any one of those people sites, look up the jobs there and be like, okay. Well, what do I need to do? to get that job. And if you don't know that what that job is, you can read the overview of it, and you'd be like, oh, that's a job. I had no idea. That's crazy. Right? Before, it was much harder because in order to understand the job, you would read, like, 10 different job descriptions and you'd be like, okay. Well, this company, their account manager does this, and this one, their account manager does this. And whatever. Now you can just use, like, chat GPT or something, and you can just what does an account manager do at a point of sale system company? and it'll spit out a pretty concise, a short little message. And he'd be like, oh, well, how do I get that job?

Gene Torres [00:31:32]:

It's funny you mentioned chat GPT. So I went on chat GBT because little hobbyist background for me. I got into gardening, then I got into hydroponic gardening, And we didn't have chat GPC years ago, but now we have it and no one now have a pool. So I'm I'm I'm doing all the pool care on my own. I'm I'm doing the chem balance and and all that stuff. If I had chat GPT available to me when I was heavy into hydroponics, I would have gone and said, How do I build a fully automated hydroponic system that measures everything and can automatically dose it? And then once you figure that out, what materials do I need to do it? So so you take that same mentality. You go to chat GPT and you say, what does it take to do x? And it'll spit out a result list of the things that it takes, but then you look at that list and you see where your strengths are, where your weaknesses are. Go focus on those weaknesses. is get good at those. And then, and then bring them up to speed. And then before you know it, like, you're gonna have all this knowledge and you're gonna have all that confidence to go and start attacking that goal. So, yeah, good point good point that you brought up, because, I don't think it gets enough exposure.

Ryan Maruyama [00:32:42]:

I wanted to ask one more question and talk about, compensation a little bit before we start talking about your past and how you got to where you are. Because part of having a goal, right, like, while Everybody, you know, it is nice to find a job that you love and you'll never work it in your life. Truth of it is is most of us work for a paycheck. And so when you think of sales, you think, oh, I don't wanna go into sales because I don't wanna be commissioned. Right? Like, I don't wanna have to basically eat what I kill, that type of thing. I would rather work at a whatever company and then just do this job and get paid whatever, a $100,000 a year to do that. For the presales engineer, it seems like It would be like a mix of base pay and commission. I I I'm not sure. What what does the commission structure look like And for somebody at your level and through what you've been through as a as a presales engineer, what does the pay scales look like throughout?

Gene Torres [00:33:44]:

So it varies depending on industry and and what they sell. I've seen it range anywhere from, like, 70,000 and up a lot of them SEs are what we we call ourselves for short. a lot of SE pays based on a base pay with an earning target. So For me, for example, I have an eightytwenty split for on target earnings. And what that means is 80% of my earnings are based on my base pay. The 20% is additional pay I get, not necessarily the same commission a salesperson would get, But if we hit a 100% of our sales goal, I will make all of that 100%. And then that can range I mean, that ceiling is you you you are the limit of that ceiling. basically. There are, you know, maybe so you hit a 100, and as soon as you have a 100%, you get into most places, accelerators. So anything above that, you get multipliers. So you can make, you know, way more than what you thought you would make. And when looking at a job like this in terms of pay. I would go with the base pay is can you live on that base pay? Because if you can, then after that, everything's gravy. You could pay debt off. You you can save up for a house. You can do all kinds of stuff with that money, but then overachieve if you can't. Like, if if you're really good at what you do, and your product is in high demand, you can you can seriously blow that out of the water, and do really good.

Ryan Maruyama [00:35:06]:

With your product, You there signing on for a long time. I'm assuming. Right? Because once you're integrated in there, it's a pretty long term relationship. Is it like insurance where the longer they stay on, the more you get paid, or is it just the clients that you're booking in this quarter or whatever your this fiscal year, whatever the bonus targets are.

Gene Torres [00:35:31]:

Yeah. So there there are merit increases in, you know, standard stuff that go on every year, performance evaluations, and stuff like that. There are raises. I don't know how raises are going right now with this economy, but some companies get pretty creative. You know, if if they can't afford to give you a raise, they'll give you some stock. there's always something they can do to get you what you need. But, yeah, for this role, particularly so sales is is you know, salespeople can come and go, you know, overnight. It feels like sometimes if they come into an egg roll and happen to not do too well, they'll get replaced. you know, someone else will come in, which is unfortunate because I've worked with a lot of sales people who were great people. They're great at what they did, but timing. A lot of this is also timing, because we have to contend with budget seasons for a lot of businesses, and every business has a budget season. So we can align with that early enough, we build that relationship early enough, we ride that with them through fruition, I mean, we're good. But if you get in at the wrong time or or you don't, you know, you completely missed a window, then you've got a lot of makeup to do. So what I see in this this world is a lot of the salespeople, a lot of them I know have been in role for a long time because and they've become very successful. but some of them have not been able to become successful, so they move on. Whereas the pre sales engineers just looking at the company I work at, On average, I think the pre sales engineers have been there 4 or 5 years on average. So for us, it's it's a pretty long standing stint. I mean, you know, obviously some of us will have friends that work in another company that makes great technology or a great product, and you wanna go work with them. So, you know, you can eventually go there. But for the most part, a lot of us, you know, we find something that we like that we've even that we can help others benefit from. And we we tend to stick with it because we get really good. We we evolve with the product or with the solution itself. and that history goes a long way. That experience goes a long way. So this isn't a role that I would say get in for 6 months and then go to another company 6 months later. keep doing that because it's it's pretty frowned upon. It's a small community.

Ryan Maruyama [00:37:40]:

I also imagine that it's pretty difficult to do that as well, right, because with your job, it is really a mixture of technical and sales, whereas, like, sales, for the most part, If you go to a different company, sales is sales, right, and and I'm speaking out of my ass. So if if I'm completely wrong, let me know. But to me, it seems like, you know, sales is sales is sales. And as long as you go to a different company and you get the product knowledge, And you say, okay. What are their demographics look like? Who are we targeting? You know, who are the leads? Okay. And then you go and talk to them. With for you, because you have a technical background, And because there's a technical aspect of your job, 1, I'm thinking that it behooves your employer to keep you around longer as well. due to the complexity of your job. And maybe I'm wrong. I'm not sure. But then also due to you having to learn the systems, I imagine that it would be difficult for you to go somewhere else and then get ingrained. And maybe not monetarily as well, but as far as, like, do the job, and come up to speed as quick as possible or, you know, as quick as you are now.

Gene Torres [00:38:50]:

Yeah. So one of the things I wanna let you in on is there are a lot of people in this role in the in my industry that have established a presence fuel with customers It's funny because we have trade shows every year. And every year, well, it doesn't seem like it's been doing it at the same as it has been in previous years, but There at one point was a kind of celebrity feel in our industry where you'd go to these massive trade shows and you'd see the guys who are bloggers, podcasters, you know, and they've moved up in the ranks, and they've become someone at, you know, high up in a company these guys show up and everyone just kind of flocks around with them because they read their blog and, you know, it's it's like seeing celebrities out in the wild. So that still goes on, but not to that extent, I don't think, because I don't really see it. A lot of it is like, yeah, we, we got tired of that. It's kind of like a sense of building our own brand. And and in this industry, you build a brand. You've kinda built a reputation. You meet people. You network with people. They happen to be, you know, well known. and you become friends with them. It's interesting how how things can evolve in this world. Yeah. When it comes to longevity at, like, where I'm at, I can stay here for, you know, pretty much as long as I want, if I wanted to, because my background, my experience, I I worked in the data center for, you know, Gosh, 16 years. So that meant I touched compute. I touched storage. I touched networking. You know, I've seen how the business reacts certain things and why they go the direction they wanna go. So you build this breadth of experience and and understand all this stuff Along the way, one of the things I didn't realize I'd picked up was the ability to communicate with these people of different rankings and translate between my technical language and their business language and understand it. So that plays a huge role where I'm at. Plus to, like, It's it doesn't do the employer my employer, for example, if I came on board and left 6 months later, issue with that is it took 3 months for me to get onboarded basically 90 days to learn the internal systems, the processes, the procedures, establish relationships with customers with partners, they're gonna lose all that up front if I left. you know, so they'll someone new will come in and and they'll they'll have to reestablish all that stuff. So when it comes to, like, salespeople, same problem. It's like if the salesperson doesn't succeed in the 1st year and they happen to leave the following year, the hunt for the new person comes on, They get onboarded within 90 days. That kinda slows our sales cycles down because now I'm also kinda training them and and sharing my experience and knowledge with them. it kinda like when I got a job back in the day and there was no documentation, I'd have to painstakingly go through a document everything I experienced. so that when the next person got hired onto the team or we expanded our team, I'd hand a notebook over to them and say, this is everything I picked up. ask me any questions about it. I'll help you along the way. So that's kind of like bled into what I do today. even with customers when I talk to them and you know, because we do proof of concept testing with them. They'll get their hands on a license. We'll we'll put the the software in their environment. They'll test it out for 2 weeks. They'll establish a criteria list. These are the things we need to see happen. So that's another part of the job is being able to put this into, you know, the real world with a customer in a test environment and have them go through it, kinda like test driving a car. They wanna see that it's gonna solve what they've been fighting with. And then as soon as they check all the boxes, that it solves all the problems that meets the business need, that's where we call it a technical win. And then I've done my job. And now let's back to the salesperson. Now, you gotta go and you gotta close this deal. Like, find out when it's gonna happen, what the, what the paper process looks like and all that stuff. So so, yeah, it's it's pretty interesting how it all works based on what I said earlier, you know, like, what my premonitions about sales Like, I would say don't let that scare you because I found out through all this experience and that it's it's not like that. Like, you become part of this this process and, and this machine, if you will, that if one piece isn't working right, then the whole thing's not working right. It's not sleazy salespeople. I think the SEs kinda keep the salespeople grounded from running away with things too much because another thing that we say jokingly is like we'll go into a meeting and you know, the account exec will introduce themselves as an account exec, and they'll introduce me and they're like, yeah, he's the one that makes sure I don't lie about stuff or or that I'm telling the truth. So so it's Yeah. It's it's pretty funny. Yeah. I mean, it's it is a pretty good community, you know, like, even working with my salespeople, like, I established a really good relationship with them. you know, we're friends at this point. We hang out. Yeah. It's pretty pretty fun. It's it's a cool. It's a cool job.

Ryan Maruyama [00:43:35]:

I would love to switch gears and you kind of hinted added already. I'd love to go to your past. You know, you said 60 years in the industry prior to that. How did you end up as a senior presales engineer or

Gene Torres [00:43:52]:

solutions engineer? What does that

Ryan Maruyama [00:43:57]:

look like because we talked about this offline maybe a few weeks ago, and we were talking about, like, there's no school for what you do. if you're like, oh, I wanna be a presales engineer. Well, there's no, like, formal training boot camp or something like that that you could go to to do what you do. So how did you end up where you are.

Gene Torres [00:44:15]:

Yeah. It's funny. There is no blueprint to get here. Everyone kinda gets into it in there at their own time on their own will. I started out my technology career at Compu USA back in 1999, or repairing laptops. And it just got to the point where I started seeing it as I can turn out a laptop repair in 30 minutes. Like, I can dis completely disassemble a lap top and reassemble it within 30 minutes. And that was just, like, repetitive every day. They would they would come in. I'd I'd return them, like, to come in. And also, it it it starts feeling like a factory. And I, like, I'm like, alright, I mastered this thing. What's next? You know, like, where do I go from here? So so along the way, I set little goals and little milestones. Right? So I went from, you know, right out of college with my 2 year associates degree in computer technology, which basically set me up to past the A plus certification exam that says I can fix computers. After that, you know, I I got the job, and then I felt I mastered it. So I was like, what's next after this? How can I scale outside of just this and have a wider audience or a wider, you know, reach so I got into desktop support, and then desktop support included doing what I was doing, installing stuff, networking stuff, you know, fixing software problems, you know, like getting into meetings and designing, you know, at a very early level, designing what a solution would look like. So once I got to that point, I could have stayed there, but I left Hawaii So it's living in Hawaii at the time. And I was like, well, if I wanna grow beyond this, there's not a whole lot of technology happening in Hawaii at the time, like, the, like, 2000. Right? So I moved to Seattle where dotcom. Right? That that's where the dotcom boom and bust was. And a lot of these startups were coming up Microsoft's there. Amazon's there now. And So I went there to Microsoft Land and, you know, I I was like, okay. I know how to fix computers. I know how to help other users with their computers. what's next here. Because I was new to the, the region, I got a job at this, this company that did medical billing for the hospitals. and they had a help desk position open. So help desk has basically answered the phone and then, you know, create a ticket go fix what needs to be fixed, come back, and check your email, and, you know, check for the next ticket, answer the phones, repeat, rinse, and repeat. So I did that for about a year and a half. Then I was like, Alright. This isn't fun anymore. What's next? So I got into servers. I wanted to, you know, like, my goal at the time was to go work for Microsoft. So I learned Microsoft Technologies. I got really good at it. I I implemented the first major email system at that business. And then from there, it was like, I started interviewing at Microsoft for some positions, and then it's like, man, this is a really big company. Like, what's gonna happen because this company I work for is small. There's a great culture. Everyone knows everyone. If I go there, I'm gonna become a number So I ended up instead of going there, I went to the Seattle Children's Hospital. That's where I cut my teeth on server work. I was in the data center now. I was racking servers. I was cabling them. I was deploying stuff. I was supporting end users from a server administrator perspective. I was responding to outages. From there, it was like, what's next? Virtualizations coming. So I ended up, we bought a house about 40 minutes from where it works. So we moved closer. I found a job closer to home. That's where I got into virtualization and the server technologies and and spent a lot of time there because it was the very bottom floor of virtualization in this business. So I helped facilitate that happening. From there, it was Now, I've I've been doing this for so long. What's next? So I went to go work for a partner that was basically like what I did on my desktop days. back in 99, early 2000, but at an enterprise level where we were now designing for the data center. And that's kinda where I ended up where I'm at, but for a long time, it was like I was doing just in installs and and break fix stuff. And then I finally made the decision to just go into sales. because I can easily relate to the business and easily relate to the users and and kind of marry the two conversations and and make it all happen. So Yeah. A lot of growing, a lot of setting small goals, milestones, and finding out what I needed to do to achieve each one. Moral of the story is if you set a path for yourself like that and and do your research on what these jobs pay, like you will see the jumps in income and and the changes in life that come along with it. But, yeah, don't just do it for the money.

Ryan Maruyama [00:48:53]:

That was awesome. I love your story because it is a very great depiction of, you know, going from one thing to another thing, and you know, I don't wanna say slowly in a derogatory way, but just kind of slowly working your way up the chain and being intentional about the moves and the life decisions that you're making at the time. You know, he's like, well, I'm at Compio. I say, speaking of Compio say, were you so you were actually at Compuose in Hawaii?

Gene Torres [00:49:26]:

Yeah. In Honolulu.

Ryan Maruyama [00:49:27]:

Where was the store?

Gene Torres [00:49:28]:

That was the one in in Alameda area in town.

Ryan Maruyama [00:49:30]:

Okay. Okay.

Gene Torres [00:49:31]:

Yeah. I think it was the first one The main one.

Ryan Maruyama [00:49:34]:

Awesome. Awesome. And I love that you just went through and intentionally, you know, you made intentional moves in your life. I'm gonna go and do this. Or I'm gonna go work in Microsoft. I'm gonna go through this and you're like, wait a minute. Do I really wanna work there? maybe not. Let's take a left turn here or seemingly a left turn, but, you know, intentional. Right? Like, I'm gonna put a blinker on, and then I'm gonna go that way. And then, you know, you're working your way all the way up to virtualization and and here you are now. If you had to go back You know, because a lot of people that are listening to this, they're gonna say, I know it because I get it in the comments all the time, and I hear people say this, like, that's great, Jean.

Gene Torres [00:50:14]:

Don't have that much time.

Ryan Maruyama [00:50:15]:

You know, yeah. Definitely. Yeah. Like, that's great, Jean. You know, you did that in 99 in 2000. Like, the world has changed now. How do I do that now? And how do I get there, you know, the fastest way possible?

Gene Torres [00:50:29]:

You know, to get where I'm at, I'd I'd say if I were to do it all over, I would have made the move sooner. I would have gotten earlier. I would have spent much time in certain places. knowing what I know now and and be just because, like, I know a lot of other people who didn't spend that much time. I basically say I grew up in IT. I was I think I was, like, nineteen when I got that job at CompuSafe. You know, I'm 44 now, and, you know, I really had no rush to get where I was going. What's crazy is back then, my goal was to make $60,000 a year. And and I was just like, within a couple of years, I hit that milestone and never turned back. And I was just like, it just keeps getting better. I mean, like, I just keep climbing. It's like, where do I stop? Where do I settle? And that's that's the other thing too is I'm trying to figure out now in my career, like, do I continue to be super hungry, or do I just nurture what I've got here and maybe grow with the business with the company and and welcome new people in and and kind of be a mentor to them. So, yeah, that's that's kinda where I'm at right now. My career is is like, at this point, if I go and be an SE at another company or, you know, do that every few years jump to new companies, it's gonna be the same thing over and over again. I mean, that's is is there's nothing different about it. You know, here I've I've established relationships, you know, and and I've built my own brand and, you know, I I really value and cherish everything this company's done for me because they they saw a lot of value in the coming from where I came from and wanted to bring me on. I think one of the things that I challenged myself with most getting into this job was the question I asked in my interview with the director at the time was, am I going to do any public speaking? And they said, why? Do you want to? It's like, you know, it's always terrified me, and I see that as a huge challenge that I like to overcome. They're like, that's what you want, you know, we'll give it to you. So, you know, now I'll go to trade shows. I'll speak on a stage. I'll, you know, do webinars and and just you know, I'm I'm in front of people all the time, so it's it's a lot of fun because part of that is I get to tell stories along with the technology I'm selling. and it's it's just it's just that I'm having a blast doing it. It does get stressful. I don't wanna stir anyone wrong. It does get stressful because this is financially driven for a lot of people, there are numbers to hit every year. There are goals to hit. Everyone's got goals. businesses have goals to keep growing and keep profiting. So it does get challenging in that aspect, but it's good challenges.

Ryan Maruyama [00:53:01]:

Excellent. I don't wanna take up your whole day, but I did wanna pull on a thread. You talked about what's next. Right? You're wondering that in your own mind. I would love it if you were able to talk to us about what the different paths are that you're debating in front of Right? So you were talking about being an SE at some other company. You were talking about staying at where you are right now and nurturing that relationship, building your brand there, becoming a mentor, basically becoming a fixture at your company now, What other branches are there out there for people in your role?

Gene Torres [00:53:43]:

So, basically, in my role, I am focused on a region. Mikey is Southwest. A next step up here from here could be an overlay for multiple regions. You know, that's like an enterprise architect is what we call those those roles actually did that a couple of years ago before they they canceled the position, and I got moved into marketing or technical marketing, for another day. But Yeah. So so you can branch out into that. You can I can go into leadership. I can be a, you know, SC manager or, you know, work my way up to be a a director you know, so there's regional based leadership positions. There's there's, country based leadership positions. There's other positions within the company that I can move around into. I know for sure I can, you know, I've done it already. I can go into technical marketing. It'd be more on the marketing side of things. And or I heard, we're opening up a field CTO position. You know, so field CTO is gonna, you know, have all the messages and have all the experience and the stories to to go and talk at a high business level. So, yeah, there's there's a lot of places to go from here. I'd say I wouldn't let a title limit it. it's it's basically taking what I've learned and being able to apply it where I feel is it could be required or or it's needed. there's a gap to fill. Yeah. I can even get into product management and help drive the direction of the products. I mean, you know, sky's the limit. Just depends on much work I want to put in and where I want to go. I just think at this time, it's I need to just assess, you know, and see where things are. I think in my life right now, I've got 3 kids. My oldest is 17 this year, and I'm like, I gotta stop living. Like, I don't have kids that are gonna become adults soon. And I gotta start thinking about what is important now to me and what I don't necessarily think is important because there are some things that I still do that I, I mean, I don't I still think I'm, like, 29, you know. still doing stuff that that I'm just like, why do I still do this stuff? It's crazy. But, yeah, it's just like that that word to go next. It's not just career question. It's just a life question in general. It's like, what do I wanna do now? You know? Kids are getting older, you know, and I'm getting more time back. with my wife, and I can focus on, you know, work stuff. I can I can actually have hobbies and and stuff. Like, What do I wanna focus on? What do I wanna get good at? What do I wanna do? Do I do I wanna take on extra work, or do I wanna take on extra play? Right? So so do I wanna spend more time golfing, you know, playing golf, or or do I wanna spend more time, you know, playing in a lab, learning new stuff? Like, Well, yeah, there's an aspect. You know, I have to keep up with what's happening, but doesn't mean I have to go and be the best at that and and constantly you know, challenge the newcomers who are fresh and have faster ways to get there.

Ryan Maruyama [00:56:29]:

I think that I think everybody hits that place in their career. And they confront that whenever you reach some sort of, like, you know, I'm using success in quotes here. It'd be a success. Looks different for everybody. but I think everybody confronts that at some point. And they're just like, well, it really what it is is just a prioritization problem. Right? You're just, like, just by definition, when you prioritize things, right, like, one thing has to be more important in the other thing. Like, if you spend the equal amount of time on 2 things, you know, they're not, like, one's not more important than the other. It's like, do you continue to be quote unquote hungry and go after your career, or is it, yeah, exactly what you said? Are there bigger things out there for my life that matter to me. Like you said, golf. Right? I mean, and golf is one of those things. We just golf together, a week ago or so, right, and it took up 6 hours of the day or so. And so right? And that's 6 hours that you could have been doing something else with your kids, or it could have been 6 hours where you were studying your industry and trying to get ahead. and, you know, your actions are basic or ultimately, you know, your vote of what you wanna do. But, yeah, definitely being mindful of those decisions is is huge. I did wanna queue in on one last thing that you did say, which is, you know, not limiting yourself by the titles you're looking at from here. I think that that is an amazing place to start to wrap up and wrap this up because that is really the key that we are trying to tell people, which is there are no rules. Right? There are no rules, and there's no cookie cutter solution to your career and to your life and how you want that to look. Like you were saying, if you wanna go into product, go into product. I mean, you're a sales engineer, And some of the product managers there might be like, well, he's not a product guy. Like, what is he what is he doing here? You know, he's he's fingers on keyboards. He's a sales guy. He's an engineer guy. He doesn't know how to prioritize different tasks and and do all the the all of these fancy agile stuff that we that we do and whatever whatever. or you can go into a completely different industry within the SC work, within your sales engineering work. I think that's the key for everybody is taking a critical look at the skills that you have and seeing how it can apply to different roles and to different companies. It takes a lot of practice to do that, but if you can do that, you will never be hungry. You will never be you'll you'll never be wanting for work.

Gene Torres [00:59:11]:

Yeah. So one thing I wanna also call out too is like with the what next. What's next thing is, you know, I've seen some SCs go and become direct of IT at customer companies and stuff. So, you know, a lot of these skills that you're picking up along the way, and and it doesn't have to take as long as mine because I've seen other people move faster. And it's basically what you do, who you know, you know, like, and how you go about it, you know, and how you show your hungry and and keep growing. So you can go as fast or as slow as you want, but for me, I wasn't in an hurry. I have all my I had my whole life ahead of me. Yeah. It's just an option too. You know, go and hang out of the company and become a director, you know, help be a part of that business and grow it, you know, take everything I've I've learned and bring it back to a customer and come full circle or get out of the industry altogether and find something that I truly will wake up to and love doing every day because it's chill. because I'm tired of running so hard. That's how you know, because that's the downside to, like, a high technology job is is very fast paced. you're constantly feeling like you're running, especially if you travel, especially if you're doing events, September October just crazy packed with the events from me. So I'm going to Vegas. I'm going to LA. I'm doing stuff in Phoenix and Scottsdale. And at the same time, I'm supposed to be selling. So it gets pretty hectic. Burn out is a real thing. So That is the biggest thing to watch out for is burnout. Once you feel like you don't wanna go to work that day because you're so tired and no matter how much sleep you get, you just you need to take a break. and and you need to identify that. So don't be in too much of a hurry. Like, take things a little slower and be strategic about it, I would say. For me, I wasn't very strategic. I was just like, there is the next goal. I'm gonna go run as hard as I can to get to it. You know, I'll be the first one to it. And then the first one to the next one, then I finally got to the end of the the race and, you know, the marathon even, and I'm just like, why did I do that? You know, what did I get out of it? Now I'm tired. But But it's it was it's been a fun journey, you know, and it's it that shouldn't stop anyone from doing it. You know, and it goes to show that you don't need the fancy 4 year degree to get what you want. You just gotta you're really good at something. Find what you're good at. Find what you love and what you're passionate about. You can talk to people about. and they'll see that in you. And and, you know, they'll open doors for you.

Ryan Maruyama [01:01:31]:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And, Jean, a couple of things before we go that I ask everybody. 1, For people that want to follow along with your career or say hi, where can I point them? Where can they say hi? and follow along along with your career.

Gene Torres [01:01:49]:

I'll give you, my LinkedIn link, URL. Maybe that. I have a Twitter account, but I'm not very active on Twitter. I just find nothing good to say on Twitter. Sometimes I feel like I'm just putting stuff out or put stuff out there. I do have a blog that I've been writing for the past, gosh, since 2016, I think. I'm not a habitual blogger, but anyone that goes to my blog, it's genetorres.megenetores.me. My approach to blogging is basically like my public facing notebook. Problems I've encountered that I found unique solutions to problems that my customers have encountered that they reached out to me to solve or help them figure out. I blog about that, and I show people other ways to do things. a lot of these can be pretty obscure stuff, but they solve problems. So, yeah, yeah, don't be alarmed by my infrequency of blogging, but that's that's my presence. I kind of treated as a living resume as well. Another thing too, building your brand, if you have something to blog about to share your knowledge and show your expertise, definitely do it. That is the best form of a resume you can ever have.

Ryan Maruyama [01:03:00]:

Excellent. And for everybody listening, I will have links to everything that we've talked about and those links where you can find gene atgreefree.coforward/ podcast. And, Jean, are there any final words or thoughts or anything that you'd like to say before we get off pieces of advice?

Gene Torres [01:03:21]:

I'm open to discussion with anyone who finds me and wants to ask questions. Maybe you're stuck somewhere. Maybe you're trying to figure out how to get out of a role you're in and and branch out or move into something else. I don't keep secrets about how I've grown, and everyone's capable of doing it. Again, it doesn't make any sense for it to stick up in my head forever. and not be able to share it with other people to see them succeed on their own, find their own success in their terms.

Ryan Maruyama [01:03:44]:

Excellent. Excellent. And Jean, once again, thank you so much for making the time. And hopefully, we can have around 2 at some point. Today, we had a little bit of a technical difficulties while we were getting started. So we didn't have as much time as I wanted, and I know that there's a lot more that we could talk about. I definitely have a bunch of notes here. So, hopefully, sometime we could do around too.

Gene Torres [01:04:06]:

Yeah. We've touched on a ton of topics. You know, maybe we get together, outline those and see if we can branch off into each different one, whatever I can do to help your listeners find their way. Yep. Absolutely. Or be more creative about how they're approaching it. Yeah.

Ryan Maruyama [01:04:19]:

Awesome. Thank you.

Gene Torres [01:04:20]:

Thanks for having me.

Ryan Maruyama [01:04:21]:

Alright. Bye. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Once again, you can find links to everything that we talked about at degreefree.coforward/ podcast And if you would like to receive a short weekly email about different degree free jobs and how to get hired, by degree free companies and how to live a degree of free life, then go to degreefree.coforward/newsletter and sign up for our free weekly newsletter. I will see you next week until next time.

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