Back to the Future with the VP of Tech Development: Episode 4 – Plug In with TTC

This week, Sean Attwood, Vice President of Tech Development at San Antonio Economic Development Foundation joins our host Dax Moreno for a journey back down career (memory) lane. This episode features hard-fought lessons in making the leap out of retail, pursuing your own career track, and how powerful showing interest in your network can challenge your career trajectory. There are also a few solid book mentions during this conversation if you like to read!

Click on the links below to listen and subscribe!

Key Takeaways from Over-Starched Pants & The Power Of Referrals

  • Make the first move – Show interest in your network
  • “A good referral goes a long way”
  • Check your mindset towards your current job, is there a better one to adopt?
  • Don’t quit your job right off the bat – Connect the “why”
  • Explore different careers or apply to a job you wouldn’t normally apply to (If you know what you’re doing)
  • Book Recommendations: “Non-Violent Communication”, “The Richest Man in Babylon”

Our favorite soundbite:

(Minute Marker 28:58-34:00)


I’m curious, this is a question that I love to ask everyone… If Doc Brown showed up in the DeLorean right now and said, “Sean we have got to go back.” What is the date that he’s punching in on the dial? Maybe a year or a time frame? What are you going back to do? Is it to shift a course? Accelerate something? Give yourself winning lotto numbers? What is it that that mission is to go do and rectify, or adjust, or ensure happens so you stay on the pathway?



Let’s go back in time Dax. June 2008 that was when I left the Austin office to come back to San Antonio and I took a team lead job. It was half-builder, half-intrapreneurial and then it was half plug-and-play. So it was two teams one of them didn’t exist yet and it was to basically take all the good elements that made sense from the account management model with SMB – because I had spent all my time in SMB and building the team over there at Austin. Now take all the good elements that work, understand this is before the whole one racks thing was really understood across anyone or else you’re out kind of thing. We had just acquired Webmail.US and it was called Mail Trust. So basically they thought the thing was “take all the things that work but understand that this is not Rackspace, this is a startup, but the intention is that it will be Rackspace one day.” So fast forward, it ended up becoming the cloud. But, like the earlier kind vibe of it was very start-up and so they wanted me to go build the account management team, build the playbook, hire, and everything like that. 

Dirk said something on the podcast last week, he said something about one of the most important and overlooked things was, “it’s got to be a strong fit with the individual, the job, the leadership, and everything, right?”






And I wasn’t a fit and I knew it. But I took the job out of impatience. And I’ll tell you it was one of the biggest lessons that I will never repeat again that I learned. Look, it was a fantastic team don’t get me wrong – I mean some really influential folks. Smartest people that I’ve ever met. But it was just a different kind of culture. Different kinds of mentality. It was about getting the promotion. Caro and I just got engaged so of course you know I was probably in a rush to get back to San Antonio and no regrets man I cannot be happier on how things went. But, I would have handled it a little bit differently, I wouldn’t have been so quick to jump in. But I was lazy, I was impatient, and I was selfish. And at the time it wasn’t out of lack of selflessness it was just out of haste. Hasty decision, right? It was a very brain oriented position, and I wasn’t using my heart. 



You know it’s interesting because a lot of people in the audience will hear that it just go “but you kind of knew in the background you shouldn’t be doing it” but in the haste to get to that next level or to achieve the thing that you think is superficially above the goal – like you can see it above the waterline. It’s a lot of work to dive deeper and see if it’s really the goal and if it’s really what you want to swim towards or not. I think everybody can relate to that.


Like I certainly can. Hearing you describe it I was instantly just going like “Ughh” but you knew deep down, “you know I probably shouldn’t be doing this but you know what it’s time I take the management step or it’s time I get a little bit more responsibility because I’ve been kicking butt and doing all of this other stuff here’s my chance but it’s just as important of the timing and if you’re not comfortable doing something, that’s the universal thing. If you’re not comfortable doing something how are you ever going to put your true all into it?



Yeah, it’s just a lot of cognitive dissonance there so get in the DeLorean or whatnot probably would have still taken the job, maybe? But it’s just the mindset. The mindset is SO important. The mindset that I went in with was the impatient & selfish. Thinking to myself, you know what I’m going to steamroll some of that culture right into this place too fast kinda thing. “Inappropriate Sean pump the brakes buddy.” But you know I have to say I am so thankful for that opportunity because of the lessons I learned.

And I want to say something about career exploration, in general, don’t be afraid to explore a little bit, don’t be afraid to apply for those jobs that you know you might not qualify for on the surface, or you might not be aligned to culturally or what not – If you know what you’re doing.



Maybe Doc Brown is there to get you to whisper in your ear and say you’re about to learn a bunch about patience and it’ll help you in the future. So, maybe you’re not changing anything but maybe you’re giving yourself a bit of foresight to say some important lessons about to come your way. 



Indeed, that’s right.


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