How To Take Control Of Your Work Situation To Unlock Your Dream Lifestyle With Matt Doan

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Table Of Contents

In this episode, Mike Gardon chats with Matt Doan. Matt Doan is the Founder and CEO of Transcendent Media. He’s passionate about helping people live “Uncaged,” which means taking control of your work situation to unlock your dream lifestyle. He does this as a coach, course instructor, and content creator.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, he spent over 15 years consulting with executives at Global 2000 companies and national security agencies on their technology and cybersecurity strategies. His writing has appeared in Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, and The Atlantic. He’s also the host of the Uncage Yourself podcast and a frequent speaker.


  • Matt’s background
  • Where Matt’s work mentality came from
  • Matt’s thoughts on what drives America’s work culture
  • Matt’s lightbulb moment for change
  • How Matt discovered his purpose and passion
  • The biggest challenges Matt sees with people who struggle to get a handle on their 9-5
  • The biggest levers individuals can pull to make a difference to get a handle on their 9-5
  • What has influenced Matt the most to be a coach and help people redesign their 9-5


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  • “Focus on outcome over hours.” - quote from Matt
  • Shortcut that Matt uses to help people who are struggling with their 9-5: push aside the 10 people around you (friends, family, coworkers, etc.). Minimize your time and energy with those people.
    • Find a mentor spectrum - a few people in your similar situation, find people a few steps ahead of you and then find find some heros (people who are living the life you want)
    • Surround yourself with that spectrum of people and be inspired and learn from them. These people will unlock your thinking and get you believing in a better way of working and living.
  • Community + accountability = two factors that drive human transformation
  • “The life you dream of is entirely possible. Start there. It’s not an incrementally better life. The life that you see others living, that you love and are dreaming of - that is entirely possible for you. Both professionally and personally.” - quote from Matt
  • Audience Gift: Creating Time Freedom at Work (20-Page PDF Guide w/ audio)
  • Connect with Matt on his website, the Uncaged Secrets Newsletter, LinkedIn, Twitter, and his podcast.


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Mike Gardon (00:00):

Hey everybody. And welcome to another episode of the CareerCloud Radio Podcast. I'm your host Michael Gardon. Today's guest is Matt Doan. Matt is the founder and CEO of Transcendent Media. He's passionate about helping people live “uncaged”, which means taking control of your work situation to unlock your dream lifestyle. He does this as a coach, or as an instructor, and content creator sounds a lot like me. Before becoming an entrepreneur. He spent over 15 years consulting with executives at global 2000 companies and national security agencies on their technology and cyber security strategy. His writing has appeared in Harvard business review, and MIP flow management review in the Atlantic. He's also the host of the Uncaged Yourself podcast and a frequent speaker. Matt and I met on Twitter. We have a lot in common. We're trying to help the same type of people. We have zigzag career paths, and we had just a lot to talk about. I really enjoyed meeting Matt for the first time. And I look forward to following his journey as we continue. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Matt Doan. Matt Welcome to the show. Great to have you,

Matt Doan (01:06):

Mike, it's gonna be a fun time. Let's do this

Mike Gardon (01:08):

Just for our audience, Matt and I kind of met a little bit on LinkedIn where I've been meeting a lot of people recently, which is fantastic for all you networkers out there. Please figure out how to utilize LinkedIn to the best of your ability, because you never know where great things are gonna happen. So Matt and I met on LinkedIn, you reached out and we've just found out that we kind of have some similar backgrounds in terms of how we've built our careers or broken down our careers maybe, and rebuilt them back up. And so I'm super excited to talk to you today and get to know you a little bit just for our audience. Can you just start maybe with a little bit of background, maybe give us the five-minute version of mad Don and where you started and what you're doing now?

Matt Doan (01:47):

Yeah, happy to. So I grew up in a very conservative household, very religious, very by the book. And you put your head down, you worked hard and you picked a path and that was key to life success, you know, get good grades, get into the good college, move on, pick a path, you know, very typical on what we're thought to do when you start early in school and make your way through college. And then you graduate out of that into the workforce. And then you're like, okay, I'm on this path. Gotta be successful. So I rocketed it out of college. I was this hybrid business slash technology consultant. I had been in management consulting since the get-go out of college. So it was always client after client traveling around the world, moving fast, lots of problems, lots of interesting challenges, lots of variety. And I thought this is amazing.

Matt Doan (02:34):

Could anything be better than all this variety in hotel points and status and all this stuff, right? This is awesome. At the same time, I got married very young and had three kids, very young all in my twenties. So by the time I was 28, I had three kids and this created a different set of dynamics for me, where I was finding myself worth finding my identity in work. And everyone saw that as me. Like, God, you're moving so fast. Now you're doing so many amazing things. You're getting published. You're getting all these awards and promotions. I was like, yes, this is where I'm meant to be. And I could come home and talk about my greatness at work. And you know, there was very real importance there. And I don't say that with tongue in cheek, I really felt that I felt it deeply.

Matt Doan (03:14):

That was my purpose to my family and professionally, I was meant to climb that ladder to use that analogy, cuz it felt right. It didn't feel wrong. It felt right at the time, but being on the road for so long, I started really leaning into it too much before I knew it. I spent all those years on the road, living at work, always dialed in. At dinner time, I had my phone, I was checking email and I would work after the kids go to bed. And the next thing I knew, I lost my marriage. I kinda lost access to my kids for a while. My mental health went to crap and I was broken. I had given so much to work and not to say that work was the only cause, but that was the primary cause where I had given so much to that world and neglected my home life.

Matt Doan (03:57):

And as I approached the age of 30, I started realizing, oh my God, there are all these things that I need to be spending my time on. Cuz that's what I'm meant to do on this earth. Be a good husband, be a good father, could be a good friend, a mentor. And I went through this rebuilding phase, Mike, where I had to look at what I wanted to be in the next phase. And I needed to take some new things. Seriously. I needed to provide for my family. I had quite a few people that I was feeding and I couldn't just leave the corporate world. I needed to be that to be a big part of my life going forward, cuz it was lucrative. Consulting pays well and it does well for you. But what I learned in the process and this is through much therapy and working with coaches is that I was caged.

Matt Doan (04:39):

I was in what I call now the corporate cage where I was saying yes to everything that was asked of me. And I was caging myself, just letting myself live in that box. And I was stuck. I couldn't move. And I needed to Uncage myself. I needed to step out of that. And I had the keys to that only I did where I could say no to things. I could work more on my own terms. So several years of reinventing myself at work were about new strategies to really protect my time. Be very careful and selective about what I said yes think about what work means in the context of an improved lifestyle. I thought about if I can design a lifestyle that I was proud of, but then I'd ask myself the next layer down. How does work fit into that? So working through that for a while was very successful at freeing up my time and energy and keeping work in a box, but really focusing my time and energy on family and self-care and side businesses and passion work the side. So I evolved a lot from there, but I'll pause there. See if you have any reflections,

Mike Gardon (05:42):

It's interesting. You mentioned your upbringing first or at least where and how you were raised. My question is where do you think your kind of work mentality came from? And I'm assuming I kind of know part of the answer, but can you drill in a little bit on that?

Matt Doan (05:56):

I think I got that from my father. He was someone very introverted and put in long, hard hours. Quietly never complained. And I, I think I saw this role model from him that this is what it takes to provide. He never expressed this deeply to me and said, this is what you should do, Matt, but I just internalize it and started running on that path myself, he got multiple degrees, you know, he had a long career in the air force and in civilian life was successful in lots of different ways. And I just internalized that. But then also I think I started feeling the pressures when I got into college or when you get those first internships or when you're in the workforce and you start seeing the competitive nature around you, of people pushing promotion, kind of elbowing around and saying what successes, successes, credentials, salary, and pay bumps and all these things. And you just feel this natural, competitive aspect to keep up with them.

Mike Gardon (06:50):

Yeah. Do you feel like that's where they like broadly speaking now, so we talked a little bit about your background and where that mentality might come from, but broadly speaking, you know that America's got this rep or work culture, right? We just grind, grind, grind, grind, and dip through it. Like what broadly speaking, what do you think is driving that, is that just the, I guess the history of success we've seen with our forefathers and people have come before us setting that stage or what like, cause it's very starkly different from Europe and other places.

Matt Doan (07:21):

Yeah. If you look at the history of work, particularly in the US, especially since the industrial era, what has been handed down for several generations? My friend Paul Miller talks about this in his book, the pathless path is the idea where work for work's sake is often the thing that's rewarded. It's the hours' mentality. It's the showing up and being there, the participation points, secondarily is often the impact that you make, but you have this hours-based mindset and showing up and always being there and always plugged in. And as a millennial, I got past that mindset down to me from my father and from those above me, and those bosses I worked for over the years, that were handed down to me. What's interesting kind of being in the millennial timeframe is you feel on one hand that pressure, but then you see what's coming behind you like with the gen Z values. And I love what I'm seeing from this next generation, especially that who are in their twenties right now, where they're seriously valuing their time, their autonomy, their choice, and their mental health. And they're really looking at how do I maximize for that? And there are a lot of interesting trends since COVID where they're focusing on things that I've learned to focus on only through lots of trial and error and pain . So I see that kind of being caught between two generations is often where millennials are at this point.

Mike Gardon (08:44):

Yeah. That's, it's really interesting. You say that an older millennial, I guess, technically as well. And I remember ha you know, in my twenties just having this mentality that like I'm gonna, I was a financial future trader at the time. I'm just gonna grind and I'm gonna like either make this a success or I'm literally gonna die in my chair, like of a, of a heart attack or something like that. Like I, that was in my head, like that was what was gonna happen. Thankfully, I was kind of a woken from that, but yeah, I mean, it's a, it's kind of a dangerous thing. And I think looking at the, at gen Z, I do agree with you. I think there are a lot of great kinds of qualities there. That, again, I, as you'd said like I learned the value, these things I learned that it's actually like, okay, and not work 60 hours a week. Right? Like if you're producing the outcomes that you're supposed to be doing, right? There's kind of like diminishing returns, like to the hours or whatever. And that beyond that, it's just theater it's oh, I'm in the office. I'm far more than you or, you know, kind of those elbows, right? Like that's super interesting.

Matt Doan (09:49):

It's like, in that sense, it's no longer about the work it's performative work. You are there putting on theater for for the sake of extra hours to be to up your perception in boss's minds to position better for promotions. And it's this game beyond the core outputs. And like you said, right, if you focus on outcomes over hours and take that mentality of what's essential that I must deliver the outputs, the outcomes that I must focus on and fixate there, and don't go past that point of diminishing returns, know what that is. Don't go above it. Because when you do that, it's not worth those trade-offs. You're exerting extra time and energy. You're losing time with family. You're losing your mental health or physical health for extra effort. That's really not worth it to you or to the organization, frankly.

Mike Gardon (10:39):

Yeah. I think that's why a lot of people end up being drawn to some form of entrepreneurship. And we live in this age where everybody can do that. Or a lot of people, a lot more people can kind of create an entrepreneurial business than in the past because like the outcomes are pretty clear when you work for yourself and then you are working for yourself. So it's kind of your baby and you got no one to blame and you got no one to fight over for a promotion, you know, it's, it's yours. So there's like some, the ownership, the agency that shows up there, which is really interesting, probably getting ahead of ourselves in the conversation a little bit, but you know, that's just where my head goes. When you say that kind of stuff. So I, I wanna rewind a little bit and talk about, cause you, you described how you got a lot of help from coaches from therapy and you were still working in really this corporate environment and structure. I think you hint at a little bit, what was kind of the tipping point that really made your eyes open to something that needs to change?

Matt Doan (11:42):

I remember very viscerally. I was on the road in Munich and one night we were about to go out for a very posh dinner as you do with the clients. And, and ironically, we're gonna wear our, our German attire. Our later hosting we had this, we literally had gear for on the road to go have fancy dinners and parties. And I remember like laying it out in my hotel bed and I saw it and I realized I was missing my son's fifth birthday and it broke my heart to like, I am prioritizing wearing this silly gear and being out on the road and not being with them. And it just, what kind of life trade-off am I willing to make here? And it just hit me like a ton of breaks that was after I had already been separated and kind of didn't see them as much anymore.

Matt Doan (12:32):

And it just hit me so hard. I remember falling on the floor and just being teared up for a couple of hours when it felt like I went home. And those next few months are when I dove deeper into therapy and I hired a new coach, started reading all sorts of self-development books, picked up journaling, just being like, what the hell am I doing with my life? And it wasn't like a clean overnight here's my new life. It was like, no, I've gotta try something. And it felt like a couple of years of experimenting with how I get corporate under my control. How do I now use this language? How do I Uncage myself? How do I step out of that and do this more on my own terms? How do I deliver the right essential outputs at work for the least amount of effort?

Matt Doan (13:12):

How do I, where everyone else is showing up 10 hours, show up five hours and be seen with just as much respect and notoriety and value as all of them that are giving twice as much effort? How do I make sure that I am doing things outside of work, whether it's being with family, eventually building a side business, doing self-development work, whatever it is, how do I make time for that? So it was a lot of experimentation. Sometimes I would tell people at work that I was experimenting in these ways and I would opt out. There was a whole year where I opted out of daily standups in the morning, everyone else would spend 9:00 AM every single day with meetings and show up. And these weren't high value to me. And they were interrupting my creative flow and I opted out of them, nothing bad happened. Maybe a few people hated on me, but I got so much freedom and time and energy back in my day as that small example. But I had to figure out how I want to design my work experience and then live up to that as much as I can, if I have this optimal work experience, how can I live up to it at least 80%? And if I do, that's a damn good success and that's getting so much life back.

Mike Gardon (14:22):

So I wanna dig into that a little bit. Cause that's a really like concrete example that I'm sure given. I'm sure there's like a bunch of people listening and they're like, yeah, I would love to opt-out of a meeting set as well, but I'm scared to death. Like how did that go? I mean, how did, what did you, did you have conversations with your superiors or how did you work that out?

Matt Doan (14:41):

Yeah. Now I admit I was a little bit senior at this point, right? This was several years ago when I started doing it. So it was like at the director level within the consulting realm and I already had a lot going on. So I felt that spending my time wisely on my own terms was something I'm an adult. I should be able to figure this stuff out and I can't make it. I won't overly justify why I can't be there. I'm not gonna say, sorry, sorry. They should respect that. I am doing my own thing and adding value to the organization. And I was like, my mind only works well from like eight to 11:00 AM before the energy levels go down. So if I have stuff interrupting that constantly, I'm no good for the team. I'm not good for the clients. The deliverables aren't as good, as all these things.

Matt Doan (15:21):

And I was like if I don't take ownership of this, who will, we're all gonna fracture our days and hurt our outputs and hurt one another, just because we're trying to have this participation point game go on. And it's like, no, I'm not gonna do that. So some people I told that I was not attending. And then eventually I got to my direct line leadership and I said, very concretely, you might notice that I've not been there in several months. And it's for these reasons because this is how I'm most effective at home and at work. And I need to be effective in both. I hope you can understand that. And they were very understanding. I didn't get harsh put pushback. I had very good leadership over the years, but I think if you're very human with people and be like, listen, this arrangement, whether it's meetings or a set of tasks, I'm signed up for responsibilities, that don't make sense.

Matt Doan (16:09):

Like I need to get out of this so I can be my healthiest self. And if I'm my healthiest self, I can be my best for this team. This organization, is that a worthwhile arrangement for you? And I would like to think that most good leaders would say, yeah, I get that. Let's strive for that. Let's get as close to that as we can. Sometimes it won't be perfect. Sometimes we'll need you to jump on a call. Cool. But if we're at least striving for that and we're on the same page, we don't just all default to doing the same things because that's just wasteful

Mike Gardon (16:42):

Mm-hmm . Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I mean, being just upfront and direct is the best path. Pretty much, no matter what, cause you're gonna get people who are good leaders, as you said, empathize with your situation and then say, maybe even take a step further. Okay. Well, how do we even do this, for more people? Right? Mm-hmm is the way we're doing this working for the majority of people. Cause a lot of times people just don't say anything and so that, you know, that's one outcome and then the other hard. No. And okay, you've got the information that's out in the open and you can make the next best decision that you need to make the kind of in the chain. So that makes a lot of sense. So like mm-hmm so your, your kind of the first path, I guess when you realized things weren't working well for your work life, it was to really get control of your time that you, you kind of seemed like that was your number one, like the first step,

Matt Doan (17:33):

Time and attention to

Mike Gardon (17:34):

Focus time and attention. So, so for, to be there for family, but also for your focus and your work, like being able to do better work, what was kind of next in the evolution? I'm curious. Yeah.

Matt Doan (17:45):

What was next in the evolution was figuring out purpose and meaning. Okay. What I found over the years is that while initially, the work generated some sense of purpose, it faded and I no longer felt it. And I tried to artificially say, this work is meaningful. This feels, and it didn't, it didn't connect in my soul. I might have outwardly said, Hey, we're working for so and so client on this big project in the world, and it's gonna have all these impacts on the world overall. And that's just started feeling false and I needed something deeper. And I realized that it shouldn't be on my employer or my employer's experience to give me purpose and meaning. I shouldn't make that a requirement. That's a really hard task to say, like, we need to find purpose and meaning in something external that's given to us as an opportunity.

Matt Doan (18:36):

I'm like, I need to create this myself. I need to figure out my own purpose and meaning. So in pinching down the amount of time and energy I was giving to work, I started experimenting on the side. So I started a blog like five years ago when COVID started, I started a podcast, a newsletter, um, a little bit further into COVID. I started testing an entrepreneurial bug that was inside of me. I needed to do something with it. So I started a coaching business while I was still a full-time consultant in a very demanding environment because I felt if I could experiment there professionally to find purpose and meaning beyond being a good husband and father if I could experiment with that sort of path, maybe something would come of it. So after a couple of years doing this during the COVID times with coaching and doing the podcast, just content creation online, much like you do.

Matt Doan (19:28):

I started to feel real. I started connecting with what my purpose was and it felt as though I needed to help my past self, my past self was someone who was getting overrun by corporate. It was ruining their lives because they let it. And I figured out how to get out of that and make it work on my terms. And I'd like to go help others who are equally stuck now that are several years behind me, sort of waking up. They were like, I want something more out of life. I don't need work over running every waking moment. Those are the people I'd like to tell. I know them very well. I was them. So I started a whole coaching business on that. I launched a cohort course, at the beginning of 2022. I left consulting now as a full-time entrepreneur, cuz I believe so deeply in this purposeful mission and that so many people need this sort of support from devoting myself to it. Now

Mike Gardon (20:18):

The word I use is alignment. Like I just that's become like utterly clear to me in the last couple call it three years is like the things that I wanted to devote my time to, I can't think through necessarily like I have to feel it. It's gotta be like if I'm gonna, you know, again, like our time is, is our most valuable resource. And I've really learned that big time in the last couple of years, just turning 40 and kind of going through that experience. mm-hmm and so it's, I call it alignment. It's like, if I don't feel it, I can't do it. So that yeah, coming kind of coming to, you know, the world of, of career and the site that we have and the podcast and newsletter and stuff like, oh, that's all I'm here because I wanna be here much.

Mike Gardon (21:05):

Like you, like, there are things that I'm reprocessing and trying to figure out, you know, that could have been super beneficial to myself as I navigated six different career changes, let's say. And, and, and I know there are people in that, in that same seat. And so I'm feeling it and it's aligned and that's where like kind of that magic happens. Your creativity gets unlocked. I feel like. So it's a huge, huge part of it. Yeah. You have to have the time to be able to creatively experiment. I love that you use the word experiment because when you're starting a side hustle, you don't know what's gonna work. Like we have no idea. The world is much more unpredictable than we think it is. And so we have to be able to allow ourselves time, the capital, we need to any emotional mental space to say like, it's okay if number 1, 2, 3, doesn't work out, but we're gonna keep, we're gonna keep working. So that's really important stuff. As you experiment with UNC caged and, and coaching and thinking about your past self, what are some of the biggest challenges that you see with people in that same circumstance?

Matt Doan (22:07):

Let's go through a few. Number one is that they believe suffering is necessary. They have this inherent belief that the nature of the job, the profession that they're in, and it can be a wide range of fields from trading to consulting, to all sorts of things, marketing, and they grow up in their condition to believe that suffering is necessary. This sucks. It's not fun. It's going to stomp on your life and intrude on your weekends. And these it's like we have these beliefs, these limiting beliefs that just creep up and we install as our default. Like this is the way it is suffering is the reality. I need to escape on weekends and on vacations. That's I need to escape from work to feel good. And I do that periodically a few times a year and every five days or so. And I think it's such a sad place.

Matt Doan (22:58):

Now, looking back, having gone through this experience, that suffering is necessary. I like to think that instead of accepting suffering as a feature of your job, the suffering is a bug and it's, you can overwrite this code with new code, which says I can make my work experience, be to my liking. And I don't need to experience suffering. Yeah. Some days it's gonna suck and it's gonna slap me upside the head. I'm gonna not like certain colleagues. So what that's part of it, but I don't need to accept this general state of suffering as how I'm living. That's 0.1 0.2. I'll go back to what you just said. Mike alignment. When you are in a state of non-alignment, you feel it and you feel it in one of your three brains, your head, your heart, or your gut. Those are three signals that are saying, something's logically wrong.

Matt Doan (23:47):

Your heart says it's wrong. Or you viscerally feel it in your gut. Those are very important sensors inside of you. And when you're working, especially month after a month out of alignment, you just know you're meant to be doing a different set of activities in life. And you're doing an alternative set that feels like suffering. That life of alignment. We've gotta get to a state of alignment. We've gotta figure out what that better vision for every day looks like. So that we can slowly configure our daily experience, both at home and at work to get closer to that aligned vision of what we want life to feel like I would start there. And it really comes down to these limiting beliefs of people who don't believe it's possible. And once you start to believe it's possible, then you can start making the right traction. You can make a movement, you can surround yourself with people that have escaped the corporate cage or have spun off and started their own business or no longer say no to all the BS that everyone says yes to like once you surround yourself with the right people and believe that a better life at work is possible, you can start taking tactical actions, but you've gotta get out of your own way to start.

Mike Gardon (24:54):

Yeah. The suffering aspect is there's like this, sometimes it's even, it's not even just necessary. It's I suffer. Therefore I'm doing something important. You know, there there's like a, there's almost like a martyrdom type of a thing, a badge of

Matt Doan (25:09):

Honor, which

Mike Gardon (25:09):

Is, which is interesting. I, I still feel it sometimes that that's a deconditioning thing that I'm, you know, on a path to getting rid of. But, but yeah, and then the alignment piece is interesting as well. I think a big part of it in my mind is like, I, we just, as a culture, as a college, the profession assembly line, we just don't do a very good job of helping people get aligned, uh, at an early stage. Cause I think what happens is people pick a profession. They're like, well, shit, it's just, it's this , here are my three options that I kind of like, here's this, and now we're on the path. You know, we're on a train and when you're on the train, you almost need, you need like some moment of permission to jump the train and to, to move and, and switch paths. And that's hard to do once now, you're you've got kids and you've got a house and cars and a lifestyle. Now you've got the corporate handcuffs. And so that's, that's very difficult. I don't know how we necessarily do that and get people more aligned at an early stage. But that part seems to be like a big, big problem, you know, worth solving.

Matt Doan (26:20):

One of the shortcuts I help people with is when they're really stuck and they feel like they need a better work situation to improve their life. As they say, okay, you're surrounding yourself. Let's say 10 people right now, push those 10 people aside. As far as don't spend a lot of time and energy with them right now, minimize that. Whether its friends, family, or coworkers, go find a mentor, spectrum, a mentor spectrum would be okay, a few people that are in your similar situation, you're struggling together. Y'all want something better. You don't know what that is quite, but that's a few people. Then you find people a few steps ahead. Maybe they've taken control of their nine to five and it's a lot smoother for them now. Or maybe they built a side hustle and escaped and actually have their own purposeful business at this point.

Matt Doan (27:03):

And then at the very top end of that, the spectrum finds some heroes. There are people that are all over social who write the books on podcasts that are living a life that you go, oh my God, I want some of that. That's the life I want. And if you start surrounding yourself with that spectrum of people and you can empathize with certain ones, you can learn from others and you can be inspired by people at that north star by your heroes. And like, those are the people that'll unlock your thinking and start to get you believing in a better way of working and living.

Mike Gardon (27:32):

I also love the idea of you saying something about this before, but not quite in these words, having somebody kind of a few steps behind you too because that's a little confidence builder. You can look back and maybe, maybe you don't come in contact with them necessarily or seek advice from them or even seek to actively help them. But to keep tabs on them is interesting. Cause it's like, I was there, you know, I'm not starting from ground zero. I was there and I'm here now. And I've got these people that can help me go that way. So I, I was, that's a little trick, but I've kind of implemented to, cause I, I have a tendency to say to be really hard on myself. and so that, that was just, it's a little bit of a trick to be like, okay, yeah. Other people are in that, that position I've changed. Right. A lot of times we think people can't change, but, but I've changed because I've got like a little step further than that. So that's a little hack

Matt Doan (28:25):

Yeah. Building, building others up. That's obviously very good for them. And it's just wonderful fuel for your daily life to keep going. When you feel down the beautiful boost for both parties,

Mike Gardon (28:40):

Right? So who's kind of, or who or what has maybe influenced you the most to become the coach and, and go down the path that you are now? I know you, you talked a little bit about helping your former self, but has there been anybody in particular that's influenced you to go this coaching route?

Matt Doan (28:58):

The idea for a better me, I ground in an old ancient philosophy, which is stoicism. I was introduced to many people these days by Ryan holiday puts out a book every single year. Yeah. So I started in, like, I read it every day. I study it, I record podcasts about it. I teach people about it. So I'm embedding it in my subconscious and what it's like to be stoke, which is like things don't control how I feel. I control my experience in the world. No one else can make me feel a certain way. I control how I feel every single day. I'm in charge of my choices and action. And the more self-reliance almost going back to like Emerson, the more self-reliance you have in your life, the more autonomy and boldness you have in taking better actions. So I started learning stoicism over the years and practicing it.

Matt Doan (29:45):

So I found certain coaches out there, people that have really amazing businesses, whether they're coaching CEOs or they're like life coaches, like those people that are working one on one with people and changing lives, whether it's professional, personal, or both, it's been amazing to just see what they do for people. And I found myself connecting to that idea of one-on-one transformational coaching, just going deep, helping people blast past all of their limiting beliefs and see what's under the surface and explore what they're really capable of going through that experience with someone over one, three or six months. I mean, that's just an unbelievable feeling to be able to dig in with people over that time. And then, you know, I have this, I have this scale idea inside of me where I want to do this for a lot of people. I, I don't know why I really want to.

Matt Doan (30:33):

So there's this balance of, I like doing it one on one because it's gratifying to me to see someone's life change and it's thorough right? In that sense, by then I'm asking myself, how can I scale that? What are the multipliers I can put in the world, the assets that will just help others do this? So that's kind of the journey I'm on now is how do I take these stoic principles, infuse them into my coaching and then do a little bit of scale. So that more people, especially in this very difficult time during kind of post COVID here, like how do they take control of the work-life versus letting work control them

Mike Gardon (31:06):

Makes a lot of sense. So you're leading into UNC caged and your course and stuff like that. Can you tell us a little bit about the course, how it's set up, what type of people can benefit from it, all that kind of good stuff?

Matt Doan (31:20):

Totally. So for those that haven't seen this kind of revolution in education technology. So we grew up knowing one-way college lectures, which were kind of boring, right? Or these on-demand type courses that exist. You pay a hundred bucks, you get a series of videos and worksheets that sort of follow through in the transformation from getting the student from a to B is very low in both of those scenarios, what we need to actually transform and whatever the problem set is, whatever we want to transform to learn a skill, improve our mindset, change our job situation. We need community and accountability. Those are the two factors that drive human transformation. There's a lot of psychological research that goes into this. So over COVID there was this rise in the education technology world, the ed tech space for cohort-based courses, one of the leaders was funded by Andreen Horrowitz it's called Maven.

Matt Doan (32:12):

There are several other offshoots, and similar programs out in the world today. But you see this rise of helping people in small groups, small cohorts transform in some particular way. So for example, the cohort that I run is called UN caged academy, which goes with a theme of what we've been talking about. It's a four-week sprint and I target it for mid-career professionals, people that are like 10 plus years into the career, they've been quite successful. Then they start to feel like work is constraining them. They want something more out of life. So they want to put the nine to five under control. They wanna make sure that's to their liking, but they also wanna unlock a lifestyle that excites them. And sometimes that involves creating like a side business, but I wanna help create that experience for people. I don't want them to have to leave the nine to five because that's not practical for most people.

Matt Doan (33:00):

I want them to get control of it and then create a lifestyle, articulate it and create movement towards it. So I run a cohort-based course. It's for four weeks. It's a small group. Usually, between 15 and 20 people, you make friends, you uplift each other, you push each other, and you give and take. There's a lot of comradery in it. We go through exercises, we go through breakout discussions. It's fast pace. It's not me. One way, lecturing. It's me facilitating giving ideas and letting the group grow as a community. So I'm really excited about what this has been so far.

Mike Gardon (33:31):

That's awesome. How many students, or you can be broad-based? How many people have you have kind of gone through your coaching and, and cohorts may be combined

Matt Doan (33:40):

Combined about 35 is what I've done. And I've only been out fully out of the corporate world for five months at this point. So I yeah. Expect that to go up a lot, but I really enjoyed for, and for anyone starting a new product or service on the side, I think the one-on-one intimacy of that is very valuable as a starting point. Cause you wanna get inside the minds and hearts of those you seek to serve, you probably experience this yourself and going your own route, but figuring out what you want, you can't just assume it. Right. But you have to spend time with them, very intimately, lots of conversations to really get inside their heads and see what they need help with. And you experiment and you, you run courses or you have lots of one-on-one zooms or whatever it needs to be. It's this is how you learn what they need and you adapt to what you hear. Right?

Mike Gardon (34:24):

Right. Yeah, exactly. So that's how you start, you started one on one coaching and then kind of moving into the cohort as you, as you zeroed in on the bigger problems.

Matt Doan (34:33):


Mike Gardon (34:35):

Excellent. So what are you doing over on your podcast then too? You got Uncage What type of conversations are you having over there?

Matt Doan (34:43):

Yeah, it's a combination of solo episodes and guests like this, where we just dive deep into specific problems. For example, one topic I talk about is creating time, and freedom at work, which is like all the strategies and tactics you might implement to gain back time safely to still succeed at work, but do so while re-regaining time and energy, sometimes we would dive into how would you create a side hustle while also delivering well at your job? Like how would you explore that in a very methodical way so that you're not taking too much away from work, but you feel like you can do that safely and productively, right? Or how would you create people? Don't like this term always, but how would you create a personal brand that opens up doors and magnetizes new opportunities over time, right? How would you get outside the four corporate walls and actually ship content to the world? That tests your challenges, you grow your new muscles, but also attracts opportunities and relationships to you that you wouldn't have. Otherwise just a few examples. Try to get pretty tactical though.

Mike Gardon (35:47):

Excellent. That's great. I gotta just two more questions. One is to anybody listening, who finds themselves in your situation back a while, or, or my situation back a while, what's the number one thing you would wanna say to them?

Matt Doan (36:01):

The life you dream of is entirely possible. Start there. It's not an incrementally better life. The life that you see, others living that you love, and it just are dreaming over. That is entirely possible for you professionally and personally, there's so much to learn. There are so many resources for inspiring people. It's the click of a button. And if you are smart, efficient, if you are focused on the life you want, and you're willing to experiment and take a few hits and get back up and experiment again, you're gonna edge your way towards it. And you are soon gonna be having the professional and personal life that you're really excited about, but you have to keep going because it's painful for a long time to create that. But it's entirely worth it.

Mike Gardon (36:48):

I love that. I love it. It is out there. It's scary. You know, when you hear that, it's sometimes scary, cuz that means, well, shit, I got some work to do and it's on me, but it's there. So I love that it resonates very, very much with it. Where can our audience learn more about you, your course, and everything that you are doing?

Matt Doan (37:08):

Yeah, sure. They can just go to That's my growing hub of everything and try to keep it all centralized. So, and I think we'll have a few things in the show notes, specifics, but yeah. Try to keep it all there and just provide value to people, right? Like, as helping them see that better life, and a better work situation is entirely possible. Give them some resources, some support, some inspiration. That's what we do.

Mike Gardon (37:31):

Awesome. And as I started the show, I said, Matt and I connected on LinkedIn. So go give him a follow on LinkedIn. He is Matthew Doan. And on Twitter, Matthew R Doan, uh, we'll have those, all those links in the show notes we'll have links up to his, uh, podcast to his website, to the course. I highly, highly recommend people start following Matt. He's doing a lot of great work and we're, we're sort of, we're kindred spirits. I'm, I'm really excited to continue following your journey and, uh, support you in the process.

Matt Doan (38:05):

Yeah. We're more powerful together. So I'm glad we're doing this, Mike.

Mike Gardon (38:09):

all right. Thanks so much for being here. I really appreciate it. And we'll talk soon.

Matt Doan (38:13):

Thanks Mike.

Outro (38:14):

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