Stephen Mobley, Ex-Trainmaster, Civil Engineer, Explorer Interview (#23)

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February 14, 2021

Stephen Mobley, Ex-Trainmaster, Civil Engineer, Explorer Interview (#23)

Stephen Mobley has spent the last few years reshaping his career, chasing mountain tops, and raising three kids with his unendingly patient wife. He received a degree in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech (Guns Up!) and currently resides in Portland, OR with his family. We cover what it's like trading a less lucrative career for a better life, backpacking and hiking, fathering twins, and jumping about the U.S. after school. If you're into trains, learning about public transportation, BNSF, or what to do with your engineering degree- this episode is for you!

*Dead by Tomorrow may receive commission on links in these and other posts on the website*

Stephen Mobley has spent the last few years reshaping his career, chasing mountain tops, and raising three kids with his unendingly patient wife. He received a degree in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech (Guns Up!) and currently resides in Portland, OR with his family.We cover what it's like trading a less lucrative career for a better life, backpacking and hiking, fathering twins, and jumping about the U.S. after school. If you're into trains, learning about public transportation, BNSF, or what to do with your engineering degree- this episode is for you!

If you're looking to learn more about Stephen, want to pick his brain, or just want to follow him on socials,  he can be found on Facebook at Stephen Mobley.

This episode's challenge: Well, we totally forgot. Again. But, on Stephen's behalf, we'd like to challenge you guys to go out and get some hike in. See what your backyard has and climb something and enjoy the view. Throw up a picture and tag us if you do!

Show Notes:

South Sister Trail:

"South Sister Trail is a 12.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Sisters, Oregon that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and backpacking and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash."

TriMet Portland:

"TriMet provides bus, light rail and commuter rail transit services in the Portland, Oregon, metro area. We connect people with their community, while easing traffic congestion and reducing air pollution — making the Portland area a better place to live."

Quote/ Wishing:

"A goal without a plan is just a wish."-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Author of The Little Prince, one of Andrew's favorite books and a quote you'd think he'd remember).

BNSF Train Master:

"Operations: Provides for safe, efficient, and effective functioning of our equipment and facilities.

Transportation: Responsible for running BNSF Railway trains and moving the freight."

Civil Engineering:

"The Texas Tech University Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering has earned international prominence in several areas. Traditionally, one of the broadest of engineering disciplines, Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at Texas Tech has recently expanded its curriculum to encompass even more academic options in response to societal needs. In addition to the bachelor's degree based on structural, environmental, geotechnical, transportation, construction, and water resources, students now have opportunities for course work and research experience leading to masters and doctoral degrees in civil engineering, a master's degree in environmental engineering, and a graduate certificate in construction engineering and management. The Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering Building houses excellent laboratories, classrooms, and computer facilities for teaching and research."

Meyers Briggs:

"The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator is an introspective self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The test attempts to assign four categories: introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving."

Blue Star Donuts:

Its donuts. What more do you want to know?

Andrew w/ His Cousin

:aka, the only proof of him near a child

Episode Transcript

Andrew: [00:00:20] Hello, boys and girls. Welcome back to dead by tomorrow. We have yet another special guest. We have been decking out the interviews for 2021. Stephen. a friend from college actually, which is a, a new type of inner we've got most. Everybody is that we've had on so far. Has been, an old friend and I've known Stephen for a while, but it's definitely a different flavor than the usual Emerald people we've had on.

Steven welcome. We are very excited to hear everything from trains and fathers and who knows what else? So how's it going?

Stephen: [00:00:55] Uh, It's going pretty well. Glad to finally join you. I've been following you guys, read your book and pretty excited to just talk about who I am. What makes me, and actually how you guys have helped me get here.

Andrew: [00:01:05] Ooh. I love it. Finally, someone who appreciates the glory, that is Andrew and Daniel's podcast. I can quote you on that,

Stephen: [00:01:13] Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Okay.

Andrew: [00:01:17] so we talked about this on our last episode. Normally it's kind of like, who knows who goes first, but because we did that now we've got to, you know, we can't let people think they know what's about to happen next. So Daniel, what you got for Steven?

Daniel: [00:01:27] I think. I can tell what's actually happening here. Andrew is just, you feel really nervous about asking our guests the first question. So you just try to find a way to kick it over to me, but that's fine. I, I don't mind, I can take the pressure. So, Steven, I haven't seen you in a long time. I think the last time and one of the few times was probably actually hiking in pellet or a Canyon.

I don't know if you remember that the trail, the mortar is that ringing any bells?

Stephen: [00:01:54] That's one of my favorite trails and I live in the Northwest now and it's still one of my favorite trails. And I definitely remember that hike. That was I think the first and maybe only time we've met maybe one other

Daniel: [00:02:04] That's kinda what I'm thinking as well. So,

Andrew: [00:02:07] Where y'all not at hammer Sunday together. One time

I feel like y'all were in town both on that weekend or was it maybe?

Daniel: [00:02:13] it's possible.

Stephen: [00:02:14] would remember me as the guy laying on the ground during most of hammer Sunday.

Daniel: [00:02:18] I mean To be fair, that was a lot of people so,

Andrew: [00:02:22] And you might've been writing. I might've been split by a couple of weeks. I can't remember.

Daniel: [00:02:27] anyway. Yeah, so. the trail to mortar is a little bit more of, I would say kind of a thrill seeking type of hike. And so is that more your emo when it comes to hiking, like thrill-seeking want to do something where you're maybe jumping over a crevasse or is it more, I'm just going to say calm seeking when it comes to outdoor adventures, where would you labor label

Stephen: [00:02:47] Definitely on the thrill-seeking side. Like I said, I live in the Pacific Northwest now I'm an Oregon, so there's really good hiking. And there's a few people who want to like go see waterfalls and you just walk in a circle, looking at waterfalls. And those are really cool because we don't have those in Texas.

But honestly I want to conquer a mountain to do that, sometimes you gotta jump over a crevasse, you know?

Andrew: [00:03:06] it is nice. Whenever you put your life on the line for something that doesn't matter, you feel really good about it.

Stephen: [00:03:12] Definitely. Yeah. when I have an option, when I'm hiking to either go up like the rock face or around the trail, I'm definitely taking the rock face because what a much better story,

Daniel: [00:03:22] yes, absolutely. We'd need to hike more. Okay. So you're in Oregon now. I assume you're, you've gotten to get out and do a lot of hikes because I've been to Portland one. And it was super cool. There, there was a lot of like beach and hiking sort of stuff. So have you found any new favorite hiking spots?

Anything that Andrew and I should go check out.

Stephen: [00:03:42] Yeah. Probably the biggest hike I've done since I've moved here was South sister. I did that in April and it was still covered in snow, the mountain, the mountains about nine and a half thousand feet. So it's not like super tall Colorado mountains, but you definitely started a lower elevation.

And it was just an incredible hike. I mean, you're in the high desert in central Oregon. And, uh, he climbed to the top of this essentially volcano. And you cross over through the crater at the top of the volcano and you stand up on this huge rock, overlooking this just wide open, plain with other volcanoes in it.

And not a lot of trees. It's where like Rocky and rugged and you just it brings out something primal in you just to be there and have conquered that, that volcano,

Daniel: [00:04:22] yeah, that sounds amazing. Volcanoes. Another thing that, to my knowledge, I don't think we really have in Texas there, there's probably some in New Mexico, but not in Texas. And so you said that's in central Oregon, like where do you fly into to go there? Do you just hike or do you camp? What do you do at second sister?

Stephen: [00:04:40] You could fly into bend, which is the main city there in central Oregon. It's also only about three and a half, four hours from here. Portland. So you could fly into Portland and easily drive, which is what we do. That one we did a day hike planning to do. So there's three volcanoes in a row right there, South sister, middle sister and North sister.

this year, actually, we're going to do an overnight to middle sister, which is a little more difficult. And then I think later in the summer, we're going to do, at least I'm planning on doing, I'm hoping a few friends will come with me. a four night hike over in Northeastern, Oregon.

Daniel: [00:05:11] That's awesome. I was just about to ask if you've done a lot of backpacking. And so is that a regular thing or is this going to be one of your first backpack adventures?

Stephen: [00:05:19] be my first backpack adventure. So, you know, Growing up in Texas, nobody really wants to be in that heat for that long.

After I got here, I started getting into hiking and. In this last year, I was like, you know what? I'm, I think it's worth it. I'm going to start spending the money on it because there is a lot of investment to get the right the tent, you gotta get the lightweight tent, the bag, good boots, you know, all the gear that goes along with it.

So started making that investment this year.

Daniel: [00:05:43] Yeah. I most recently backpacked in Idaho at the Sawtooths with some friends and that was. An amazing experience. Idaho is one of those places. you know, you've definitely got to check out, cause you're in Oregon. It's not that far away. I don't think a lot of people really go. But it was incredible.

We got to go through kind of some of these passes that hadn't been crossed yet that season, just because of the snow was still pretty high. And so there were a couple of spots where we were the first ones to do it. And there were a couple spots where like we're hiking and we saw, Oh like, There was an avalanche here.

This season, we're hiking through all of this fallen pine through an avalanche field. And it's just stuff that you can't do unless you're willing to pack on all of that gear, spend a few nights out in the remote areas. And so, I'm pumped for you cause obviously we both love hiking and I think hiking is really cool and, and backpacking is just like that level up of an experience.

Andrew: [00:06:38] Y'all are giving me all hot and bothered here, man.


Stephen: [00:06:43] Idaho has been on my list. I've got a friend they were living here and they just moved back to Idaho and they're out by quarter lane. And some of the places he's talks about just sound incredible. And so definitely on my list to go to Idaho,

Andrew: [00:07:01] all right guys, before, we get too deep into becoming a hiking podcast and you think Steven's just a pretty voice and a face that, you know, if you can imagine a voice with a face there, he actually.

Is an engineer turned trained guru, I guess would be a way. And like by train, I mean, like two, two trains, but the big ones that you see on railroad tracks.

Daniel: [00:07:22] Wait, What other trains would you be talking about? Just sorry to interrupt there, but

I want to Clarify.

Andrew: [00:07:28] no, whenever it comes across audio, I figured people would be like, train Andrew, likes sports. Maybe, you know, Steven's a pretty face hiking. Maybe they thought he'd be like a PT or something like that. And training people

Daniel: [00:07:38] Oh, you were like talking about literally train physical training. Okay.

Andrew: [00:07:41] Yeah, I was worried that might come across because so far we've just talked about hiking stuff and Steve even sounds like a really big, strong burly man and little do they know that he's a big, strong burly man who also has the voice of an angel?

Stephen: [00:07:54] I was wondering where that was going.

Daniel: [00:07:55] and then naturally train guru is something that you use when talking about, I don't know, a person you go see in the gym.

Andrew: [00:08:01] Yeah, that's what I want to be called. If I ever helped anybody with workout, I expect my title to be trained guru or train master, which is a title that Stevens held well, what was up with that by the way? Why give us a rundown on your career cause you know, we like to talk about jobs here because that's what half the people care about.

So What happened when you got, I think, a mechanical engineering degree, right?

Stephen: [00:08:21] civil


Andrew: [00:08:23] it civil. I was there. You got a civil engineering degree and then you like took a left turn.

Stephen: [00:08:29] Yeah, it was a hard left actually. So I got my civil engineering degree which for those of you that don't know is specifically to like, anything that has to do with like construction water purification. My focus was in transportation, which is roadway, design, railway, design pavement, things like that.

so. My senior year, I went to the Texas tech job fair and they, it was specific to engineers. So I assumed everybody there. All the recruiters there knew that I was an engineer and we have a little name tags that say, Steven mobiley, civil engineer, and I'm going through talking to different people and come across the booth for it's actually two booths.

They had a bunch of people there for BNSF, which is one of the largest railroads in North America. And so, thought, Hey, I could talk to them about rail design, and started talking to one of the recruiters. He asked me what my focus was and I said, transportation. And I thought he knew what that meant because he's at the engineering job fair.

But to him in this, in the world, I'm in now that means like operations. So actually operating the train and management of that. And so he goes, Oh, let me put you in touch with our transportation recruiter. And so I went over and talked to this guy John and John was like, Oh, you know what, let me tell you about this position.

And I was like, hold on. This is not what I thought this was. so we kind of laughed about like the miscommunication and he goes let me tell you about the job. And so he tells me about this opportunity and it's a management trainee position. So essentially they bring me in, train me for about a year.

And learning the railroad, learning the business, learning how to be a decent manager. And then they kick you out and you're now in operations management. And I was like, you know, that's not really what I'm looking for. And he goes, yeah, but just so you know, there's opportunity to move up.

You could always go back to engineering and this is what you start out with pay wise. And I was like, Oh, now I'm interested because it paid a lot more than an engineer engineering position would.

Andrew: [00:10:20] Hold

On. Let me ask you a personal question then real quick. What is the expected pay for an engineer coming out of school versus what is the expected entry level pay for BNSF?

Stephen: [00:10:29] Time. An entry-level civil engineer. I probably would've made somewhere between 45 and $55,000 coming out of school. Civil's definitely on the lower end of pay scale for engineers. Well, that's, That's definitely entry-level right. Like project managers make a lot more,

Andrew: [00:10:46] Which is still a chunk of money.

Stephen: [00:10:48] Oh, no, it's still good. Uh, It was, it's still really good pay. But BNSF offered me essentially 62 during the training. And then uh, by the time I finished training, they actually went through Like a review of what they were paying people at our level. And they raise the entire train master, which was my title.

They raised everybody's pay up to over $90,000. And so

it was, it was very nice and it's hard to say no to that, even if it has nothing to do with your education. That's how I got into being a train master.

Andrew: [00:11:20] Okay. Sorry to just have distracted you there. I thought that'd be good context for everybody. So you, you jumped over to BNSF and then where has that led you with train masters and whatnot?

Stephen: [00:11:29] Yeah. So a train master is essentially a manager, a frontline manager. My goal was to join BNSF I worked in, uh, in the largest yard that we had in the U S. And so we, you can imagine it like a hub for an airport. Trains come in, we break those trains apart cars, go get and put on different trains.

And then they go to their final destination sort, sorta like a hub for an airport where people get off of one plane and get on another and go to their final destination. my goal was to learn the business, do that for a few years and then get promoted into something else. Making gobs of money.

I was pretty happy with that. And so like right out of school, never thought I'd be making that. And started doing the training program was really enjoying like this new world that I didn't know anything about learning a lot. And after I get into the position, realized that it was just a grind.

It was pretty horrible managing some of these people the deadlines that were put on us it just was not a good fit for my kind of lifestyle, my personality. In fact, when I got there, they told me that BNSF started or stands for better, not start a family because everybody gets to. so yeah, I did that for almost five years and.

I had gotten turned down for a couple promotions and basically said, you know what, I'm gonna look for something else. This is not good for my family. This is not good for me personally. I just, it was really weighing on me. I turned into someone that I wasn't, my temper was out of control.

I was really short with not just people at work, but like my wife and my kids it was taking a lot of time away from my home life. Uh, Really demanding hours. And so it just was a time for a change. And that's kinda how I got out of BNSF and started looking for other jobs.

Daniel: [00:13:11] I feel like there's this dynamic that comes up a lot with work. And it sounds like, you might've fallen prey to this where in a career, a lot of times our jobs get. The best of us. And when I say the best of us, like literally it gets your attention, your best efforts and all of those sorts of things.

And then what is left over sort of goes to your family. They're getting the tired, worn out version of yourself. I Commend you being able to recognize that was the case and trying to be able to find something different. And so do you feel like now in the position you're in, you're equipped to be able to sort of give your best back to your family?

Stephen: [00:13:49] Oh, yeah, absolutely. When I got the job that I'm in now I took this position intentionally trying to get away from where I was at. And so, like you're saying I, I definitely became aware of Shorting my family, that they should be my first priority above work. And so by taking this job, that was really a big factor in that, especially because I'm now working at a trans agency, I worked for TriMet, which is it's taxpayer funded.

It's not necessarily government, but it's pair of government. And so there's certainly a difference in outlook on what you're expected to give. And I think it's actually a healthy balance here. So I'm much happier where I'm at. I'm much more able to give my family priority over work.

Daniel: [00:14:31] And what did you, or did you have to sacrifice anything to be in a spot where you could connect more with your family? Is it something you had to sacrifice, like pay or moving or how did that

Stephen: [00:14:42] Yeah. So I've been here a little over three years now and I still haven't gotten back to the pay I was at at BNSF just after the first year I was at BNSF. you know, there was Definitely a sacrifice to be made there. We had just bought a house six months before I found this job. And so really just buying a house and then turning around and selling it.

It was a pretty big financial hit for us. So between the two, I definitely lost out on some money, but and we also moved to Portland, which is. Quite a bit more expensive to live here than it is in Kansas city. Just the cost of living the cost of housing. And so, certainly had to be willing to give some of that up, but it's definitely paid back 10 fold just in time with family personal relationships.

Andrew: [00:15:23] That's awesome. for people who, you know, even Daniel, what do you do now? What's your title? Who are you working for?

Stephen: [00:15:30] So I work for TriMet. It is the stands for tri metropolitan. We're the regional transit agency in Portland, Oregon. So we have buses we have light rail, which is what I took a position for. So I was a manager or an assistant manager over the, the light rail systems. So I had operators underneath me.

We did a lot of safety stuff, worked with the union. And then about a year ago, I took a promotion as the manager of streetcar. And so I'm still a rail manager, but the streetcar is actually owned and operated by the city of Portland. And they contract out our employees for operators and maintenance.

They supervise, they do the day-to-day management and I'm more of the oversight from TriMet for our employees. I do the liaison work between the two agencies work on some contract issues, work with our union to make sure that we're in compliance with them safety initiatives, things like that.

Andrew: [00:16:21] Nice man. I dig it. Okay. So before, before we continue down the train path, which I feel like there's a pun there, but as we've discussed under DME. So I'm saying that because I know Steven loves ponds. You get along with everybody else. That's been on this podcast.

Stephen: [00:16:35] I think it just takes a

lot of training to love puns.

Andrew: [00:16:38] Jesus I'm out.

Y'all have fun with this.

Daniel: [00:16:41] Can't escape it. Andrew. Can't escape it.

Andrew: [00:16:44] I don't know why. okay.

Stephen: [00:16:46] Sorry. I derailed us there.

Daniel: [00:16:47] Hey, conduct yourself. Steven conduct yourself.

Andrew: [00:16:50] Yeah, I'm leaving. This is now y'all's podcast. It'll have fun. I'm going to go become a hermit,

I talked to you a little bit ago and you mentioned it on the podcast and we're still at the beginning of the year.

So you talked about kicking your goals into gear and kind of the book helping you and some of this stuff. So I thought I would see what. What did you actually decide that you're kicking into gear? What kind of goals resolutions are you working on? And what in particular kind of gave you that, that kick?

Was there a certain part of the book? Was it, you had it convergence of events in the universe and you're like this blog, this movie, and then I read this one line in your book and I was like, it was all the same thing or what was the

Stephen: [00:17:35] Yeah, it was definitely the only line I read in your book. No, I'm just kidding.

Andrew: [00:17:38] You just opened and you're like, Oh, that's what I needed

Stephen: [00:17:40] uh,

it was definitely So I mentioned moving away from BNSF and moving here with an intention of realigning, my priorities. And we've been here for three years. I haven't mentioned this yet, but a part of realigning, my priorities is my faith. And that was one thing that BNSF really I guess I struggled with when I was, there was because we had weird schedules because.

Of the environment that I was in, I really felt disconnected with my faith. I wasn't able to connect with other people. Just like in a corporate setting at church, I wasn't able to connect with a lot of believers because it just there's, it's a very secular organization, or I guess the industry is very secular.

And so that was a major part in trying to get away from that was, I felt like I had to reconnect and a spiritual sense with God and with that community. And so when we moved here one of my major goals was to find that community again and find people that could. Pour into my life like mentors and people that I could walk alongside with.

And so I've been doing that for the last few years and I think I just didn't have a good direction. I was just stumbling forward looking for how do I make this happen? And so, You know, I was able to, cause I know you, I was able to get your book a little bit early and actually finished it prior to the new year and just thought, I don't set a lot of goals, but throughout your book, you're talking about having a clear vision for what's ahead setting goals.

And you get to the end, you go through some of those questions. And I found myself struggling to answer some of the questions at the end of the book. And so I, I just talked to my wife and I said, Hey, let's sit down. Let's do goals this year. I don't ever make goals. I've never actually made a new year.

I've made new year's resolutions, but I've never made goals for the year. It's just not my style. And so I sat down and I did it and as I worked into it, I thought, man, there's a lot of stuff I want to do. This is really good to just write it down and to be able to see it in front of me and. Hold myself accountable to it.

Yeah, that, you know the questions at the end of your book, I think really spurred me towards that, but just the mindset throughout the whole thing was like being prepared to sees what's in front of us. And how can you seize what's in front of you if you don't know what you're trying to grab.

Andrew: [00:19:49] I swear, we didn't pay him to say this like, but No, that's really good because it is, if you don't have. A plan. There was a quote, I think we've said it before, but a goal without a plan is a dream. And that's the same thing as resolutions. If you're like, Hey, I want to get in better shape.

I want to make more money. And that's where it ends. You're just wishing that's what it is. It has something to do with wishing I'll throw it in the show notes. Like you're just wishing for something. If you don't actually have a plan on how to accomplish it, because that's how it works. If you don't know, if you don't have your roadmap, it's really hard to.

Make yourself do the stuff that. Is right there that day. You don't have the motivation to take that small step forward because in your mind, you're like well, here's this thing I want. And at some point I'm just going to reach out and take it, or if it's going to happen to me, as soon as you make that plan, it's Oh, I've got to take this step.

And I've got to take this next step. And there's, all these building blocks that go into it. And you're like brick by brick building this wall. And a lot of people just want a wall and they don't really recognize that you've got to do all of these things that involve building that wall. It's a singular object, not all the small parts that build up to this some.

So I'm glad that helped.

Stephen: [00:20:53] you know, I'm the King of procrastination and my other struggle is apathy. So those moments, when I do feel that tug to to better myself, That's when I've got to put these things down on paper and actually hold myself accountable to them.

Daniel: [00:21:05] interesting as I feel like there are some areas of our life that we naturally. Or maybe it's not even naturally, maybe it's just been instilled that you set goals around these things. And a lot of times that's related to career and related to making money, but I don't feel like very often we're challenged to make goals when it comes to our relationships or when it comes to our faith.

And that's where I think a lot of times people. Just struggled to make progress in those areas. They feel stagnant in those areas. Those areas fall by the wayside because you may set these really amazing, smart goals when it comes to your career, but then you don't. Bring that same attention to your relationships, to your faith, to the things that really make you who you are.

And that kind of goes back to what we talked about earlier, Steven, this idea that a lot of times our jobs and our careers, they get the best parts of us and we set goals related to those things. But then we don't. Have that same level of attention when it comes to our families and our faith. So how do you feel, I guess it sounds to me like you sort of reprioritized your life and so how have those priorities look?

What are your priorities when it comes to your focus?

Stephen: [00:22:18] Yeah, I'm still priorities are a struggle every day for me. I Have ideas of what need to be priorities, and then I have what are actually my priorities. when I reflect on how I'm treating my priorities, Typically it, I realized I'm just a really selfish person and my priorities are about me making me feel good.

And so I'm really struggling to change that to where my priorities are about my family. My priorities are about my faith. And in fact, one thing I've been. Working towards this last year and something I'm actually trying to figure out how to make you. You mentioned a smart objective. Like how do you make that a smart objective is to really make God a priority because if he's my first priority, all this other stuff falls in line underneath it, right?

Like if, I have a good relationship with God, I'm gonna, I should have a good relationship with my wife and I should be a good father because all of that follows being. A good follower of Christ. And so like for me that's, my reprioritization is trying to put that first so that these other priorities that I know I need to be focusing on and I do, I think a pretty good job of, but they tend to shift and they tend to to slide and to move up and down.

If I can prioritize God first. I think those other priorities just naturally fall in line where they're supposed to be.

Daniel: [00:23:34] Yeah. And let me ask did becoming a father play a major part in having that mindset or changing your

Stephen: [00:23:41] Absolutely. I grew up in a Christian home. And so our relationship with God is not something new to me, but this personal relationship with God, as a father is completely new because until I was a dad, until I was a father, I just didn't understand that love. I didn't understand that relationship and like how you can like a lot of the questions people ask about God like, well, how can a loving God allow bad things to happen.

And like, That just makes more sense as a father, because we can tell our kids over and over, Hey, don't do that. It'll hurt you. But if they continue to try to do it at some point, you just have to say, okay, touch the hot stove it's going to burn. And you just let them make that mistake. And I know that doesn't answer all the questions, but there's just so many things that make so much more sense as a father and in understanding God's love for us.

You just can't be as selfish as you were when you're a dad. you know, That takes you kind of beyond like, Hey, it's all about me. It's all about my comfort. Because for those first few years of having kids, there's not a lot of time for you. There's not a lot of time for your comfort.

And I haven't mentioned this, but I have twins. Our first infants were two of them and twins are high risk. There was a lot of extra work we had to put in they were, one of them had heart surgery right after he was born. And so there was like really no rest. And it was all about taking care of our kids, trying to do the bare minimum at work so I could keep my job so I could have benefits for my kids, and yeah, it definitely takes you outside of yourself and automatically reprioritizes what your life's about.

Daniel: [00:25:11] Yeah, I. Could not agree more. Um, The recent data of a four month year old little girl, and just the, I feel like it's been said, and it's true that you don't realize how selfish you are until you get married. And then you don't realize how selfish you are. Again, until you have a kid. It's just, it totally changes the game.

And I even just last night kinda got called out a little bit on that and did my natural thing where I. I'm a very logical person and tried to explain all the ways that I'm, I'm not being selfish, but then, reflecting on it's like we on assignments like, okay, you know that I'm still guilty of it.

Still trying to work on that prioritization and it's not easy. And it is something again, I got to bring some specific focus around to some goals around too.

Stephen: [00:25:55] Yeah. And I think you bring up a good point too, that it sounds a lot like your wife pointed that out to you and

Andrew: [00:26:00] Sure.

Wasn't Riley.

Stephen: [00:26:06] But it's a really good point that when you're in a good relationship and you have that good foundation, which is like, It's important to have that before you have kids, you can hold each other accountable because we have to remember that we're not the only ones learning how to not be selfish in that environment and our wives, the mother who has honestly so much more responsibility when it comes to kids, because just naturally speaking, it.

We have to remember that they're on that same journey too. And it takes a good relationship to be able to have those conversations and to work through some of that have grace for the other person, but also hold each other accountable and push each other to be better.

Daniel: [00:26:40] Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

Andrew: [00:26:41] Y'all are just trying to attack me here for all my selfish ways. I see. But you know what? I'm going to bed when I want tonight, which will be probably nine o'clock.

So I'm going to pull you a little away from the dad talk because I can't really add input onto that without sounding like a weird hypocrite

Daniel: [00:27:02] No, hold

on now, Andrew there's a widely circulated picture of Facebook of you uh, being uh, a little bit of a father figure to a child. So, I mean, You're not like totally outside the realm of dad life.

Andrew: [00:27:14] I'm not honestly sure. Which picture you're talking about. Do I know

Daniel: [00:27:18] man. We'll put it in the show notes. Yeah. Yeah. It's you sitting at a table looking very non amused with a kid who just looks like he thinks the world of you.

Andrew: [00:27:28] Oh yeah, that sounds probably accurate. All right. we might discuss that more later. We'll see. All right. So we skipped over some of our like intro questions we normally offer. So let's kick that out there for the people who, for some reason we care about that. Where are you at on the introvert extrovert scale? And I'm stealing Daniel's favorite question.

Do you know your Enneagram number?

Stephen: [00:27:48] No, I don't know my any and grim number. I definitely inter sorry, I'm definitely an extrovert, but I'm right on the line. So one of the things that I did appreciate about BNSF was every year they sent us for management training in Fort worth at headquarters. And we always did some kind of like evaluation of yourself and The Myers-Briggs came up a couple of years.

And so I'm an EST J which is an extrovert, but I'm right on the line of introvert extrovert. So like, I really enjoy, Being with people. I tend to find myself gaining a lot of energy when I'm around. People are having like really good discussions with someone, but I really enjoy my time alone too.

Like I could easily go on a hike by myself all day and just feel completely rejuvenated at the end of the day. So I think I'm a good balance

Andrew: [00:28:36] Okay. I have a, follow-up a first EST J that's extroverted. What is the

S. Is that sensing that's right. Cause it's either intuitive. I think what's the in intuitive or sensing now that's gotta be the same thing. Then thinking

Stephen: [00:28:53] and judging.

Andrew: [00:28:54] yeah, I'm a J so I'm just, I'm missing what is probably logic, whatever that S stands for sensing must be logic because I've got the other one.

Daniel: [00:29:02] For the record, Andrew, it is intuition. I just wanted to see how much you

Andrew: [00:29:06] It's intuition. There we go. I knew it was see, I had the reasoning behind it. I just don't have the, I don't have the cool word intuition. Why would you put it in then? Why? Why not? And I

Daniel: [00:29:15] Because I don't know. It just that'd be weird. E I T J I don't like how that sounds.

Andrew: [00:29:21] E S is better.

Daniel: [00:29:22] No, it is. It

is because of introvert.

Andrew: [00:29:26] See, this is why you have the S and I have the end. I can't reason that out. Okay. Sorry. Sorry, everybody for Andrew's failures. So I went with you to Portland. I visited you briefly, and we kind of like to talk about cities a little bit. So what is your favorite thing about Portland? What was your favorite thing about Kansas city? Favorite place to live? What's it been like hopping to some major cities in the last 10 years?

Stephen: [00:29:49] It was a big plus for me, when I got on with BNSF is they operate pretty much Chicago West. And I was like, man, I'm going to, I want to join this company and move around all over the place. Little did I know I would get stuck in Kansas city. But it turns out Kansas city was a great town. It's a couple million people, so it's a good size great sports teams in case you weren't aware.

I really enjoyed Kansas city. surprisingly, it's not as flat as I expected when I took the job. Cause I took the job like sight unseen. I'd never been to Kansas city. I was definitely expecting like corn and wheat West Kansas, but it's right on the edge of the Ozarks.

It's. Lotta like Bluffs and Hills and really pretty trees and lakes and rivers. And it's actually kind of a, it's being revitalized. So there's a lot of cool art downtown. There's a lot of local bands, a lot of local breweries. And we really enjoyed it there apart from me. Not being able to connect because of professional reasons, but the people we did connect with, we loved it.

People were pretty genuine people, really love being outdoors and staying active. And so I really enjoyed Kansas city. I would highly recommend it to anybody if you're just looking for a place to get away or if you have an opportunity there it's a good place to live, easy cost of living. Portland is quite a bit different.

So Kansas city, you get that Midwest feel Portland is like very Northwest riot city. I'm sure you've seen all the news about protests and riots happening in Portland for over a hundred days straight. it's definitely a different climate when it comes to like, the social issues and how people view politics and things like that.

But it's been really good. I love the people here in Oregon. They're very genuine people, you know, where you stand with them, especially if they don't like you, but generally speaking they're just good people. They enjoy the outdoors, they enjoy staying active which is how I've gotten into hiking.

But Portland is an amazing city. The food is incredible. There is a weird spin on every restaurant. Like if you just go to a restaurant it's never just a burger. It's going to have some Asian flare to it or a Mexican flare to it, or there's always some twist on it. And so it's always exciting to go out, to eat somewhere new.

Uh, We are known for voodoo donuts cause they're fantastic. there's a ton of cool doughnut places here. And then you just have the access to the outdoors So I live on the West side of Portland. I can see the coast range from my house, which is the mountain range between us and the beach, essentially, which is a couple hours away.

So I can get to the coast through the mountains there. And a couple hours I can drive East of Portland and be in the cascades and Mount hood is right there. That's only a couple hours just right where I'm at, there's trails. 20 minutes from my house in the Hills. And so it's just really an incredible city where you have access to big city things and you also have access to the great outdoors.

It's the Pacific Northwest. You couldn't ask for more

Daniel: [00:32:38] I have to ask, cause I want to see where you're at on this and I don't want to offend you, but I've been to voodoo donuts and then also blue city remind blue star. I liked blue star more. Am I crazy?

Stephen: [00:32:50] you're not generally speaking. I think blue star has better quality donuts. But you just can't, you can't get what you get at voodoo anywhere else. Nobody puts captain crunch and peanut butter and Oreos on the same donut.

Daniel: [00:33:02] That's. Yeah, that's fair. That's fair.

Andrew: [00:33:04] They've got the novelty factor, blue stars working the quality. I need both in my life. So it's okay.

Daniel: [00:33:10] They're pretty close to each other if I remember

Stephen: [00:33:11] They are, you could easily get from one to the other on a bike.

Andrew: [00:33:14] That's that is the most Portland thing I've ever heard.

Daniel: [00:33:19] Oh man. And then, okay, so Kansas city, I also have to ask this because it's, I feel like it's a unique city in that it's on the border between Missouri and Kansas. so what am I. Unique experiences. There is, I went to play ultimate Frisbee and we were playing on the Kansas side. I think we're staying on the Kansas side, but then we would always cross over to the Missouri side cause you could buy liquor and the Walmarts there.

Are there any other just like unique things of a city that is on a border between two States?

Stephen: [00:33:46] I think you hit it with the liquor. That's definitely what I would have said was like Thanksgiving day, you need some liquor Kansas won't sell it to you, but I can drive a mile East and go by and Missouri. And I guess they just want you to drive farther with alcohol in your car. it's pretty interesting. My wife worked in Kansas city, Missouri, and we lived on the Kansas side in a suburb. And so like taxes were an issue or should we, she had to file income taxes in both States and then we would get a refund. From one state for what we paid in the other. And so yeah, that was definitely weird.

People just get confused, like where you live. Some people are like, Oh, you live in Missouri. You're like, no, I live in Kansas. So there's just some confusion there, but yeah, I think the liquor thing definitely the biggest like oddity about being on state lines is just the different laws.

So while you were there, I hope you ate barbecue. Cause that was, and forgive me, all of my Texas friends, that was the best barbecue I've ever had in my life.

Andrew: [00:34:42] Dang Houston

boy shots fired.

You should know better.

Stephen: [00:34:48] I'm going to get a tongue lashing. Next time I come home.

Andrew: [00:34:50] Don't let

your parents listen to this.

Daniel: [00:34:51] I honestly do. And I, and I, unfortunately, one thing about Frisbee trips is that you, you kind of just end up eating at like taco bell more than half the time because you're in college, you know, I'll have money. So sadly, no,

Stephen: [00:35:05] Cause, uh, a crunch wrap burrito is the best thing to keep you in shape while you're running back and forth on a field all day.

Daniel: [00:35:10] Absolutely. Absolutely. And at a certain point you just got to get calories in there for the lowest cost possible.

Stephen: [00:35:18] Okay. Yeah. That was another thing though. Stateline wise if you ate in like Western Kansas, or on the West side of the city, you could get some different barbecue then eat on the East side of the city. Cause you kind of had that St. Louis influence on the Missouri side. And then on the Kansas side, you kind of had more of like an Oklahoma influence.

Daniel: [00:35:42] All right. We're going to go back to the trains one more time, mostly to see if we can get any more puns. But I mean, if we don't that's fine as well, but I feel like the railroad and trains are something that for the most part, we just take for granted, like my only. Real memories is that it was exciting to see a train when on a road trip in Amarillo, because you had something besides flat earth and you could count the count, the railroad cars.

But when it comes to the railroads, have there been any major enhancements since the 16 hundreds or whenever we have the transcontinental railroad

Stephen: [00:36:16] Yes and no. essentially they're the same thing they were from the start, right? We have. Two pieces of steel with some heavy cars on top and you just pull it from one place to the other and that's the same general concept. But yeah, there's been some really cool improvements over the last, I would say few decades.

one of the things, obviously we went from like steam locomotives to now diesel electric locomotives. And so, that allows us to pull. Bigger longer heavier trains. In fact, before I left BNSF, the longest train that I was ever a part of building was uh, 16,000 feet. Which is for those of you who don't know is almost three miles.

yeah, so that's pretty honestly from like a logistics perspective, it was useless, but it was like a cool marketing thing. you know, There's some cool stuff there, but I think the biggest improvement in trains lately has been positive train control, which is PTC. And so this is a requirement from the federal government for major freight railroads and passenger railroads to essentially create the system that.

Is going to stop the train. Anytime there is an emergency, anytime there's if the train gets moving too fast and the engineer doesn't slow it down in time, it'll give him a warning to say, if you don't slow this train down, it's going to stop. And it, if he doesn't, it stops the train automatically.

It can look ahead and see if there's anything that is in the trackway. And if it recognizes something in the trackway that shouldn't be there, then it'll stop the train before it gets there. that was coming out, maybe my last year at BNSF was when they started turning all that stuff on.

And even just in that little time, we saw several people who like the lives were saved because of it I'm actually an Amarillo. And I actually wasn't Amarillo. It was a town Southwest of Amarillo. Herford I think. there was a grain elevator. So those big towers that they store grain in had a rail car sitting there in storage, and it rolled down onto the main track and PTC for this oncoming train, recognize that car rolled out on the track and stop the train within a few hundred feet of it, rather than the engineer, not knowing it was there until too late, plowing through it, possibly derailing the train and, hurting our engineer and conductor.

So, That's a, it's a pretty cool system. The federal government's been requiring it, especially if you remember, there was a derailment from Amtrak going to Seattle a few years ago, and that was definitely it gave them some steam to say, you know what, we need to make this happen now. So huge

Daniel: [00:38:43] There it is. There's there's there's the pun had to call that out there just in case anybody, Andrew, in case Casey missed it.

Andrew: [00:38:49] y'all are dead to me, dad. You hear

Stephen: [00:38:54] yeah, I would say that's the biggest change lately. What you're seeing a lot of now. Is a move towards intermodal. So those trains you see with that, aren't just like old box cars, but they're actual containers. Those are pulled off of ships. They're placed on trains. And then when they get to their final destination, they pull them off a train and put them on a truck.

And honestly, that's where most of Rail roads are going this day is just cause it's easy to like to move that container off of one vehicle. We'll put it on another vehicle and you can get it right to the final destination without having a building built on the rail line. yeah, exactly.

In fact, last mile is the terminology we use. I think where we're heading where I work in transit, we are all electric. So our trains have the wires that run above them. And then the pantograph that goes up and touches that wire and it pulls 750 volts. And which is a lot of electricity in case you're so, and that way, and so you actually see a lot of like commuter trains starting to be electrified too.

Daniel: [00:39:54] And so

Stephen: [00:39:54] for

Daniel: [00:39:54] the big trains, those aren't electrified yet just because the horsepower that's required, you can't get from an electric motor Well,

Stephen: [00:40:02] Actually the motors themselves are electric, so it's a diesel electric locomotive. So the locomotive runs on diesel and then it provides electrical power to uh, these motors on usually four of the max holes on a locomotive.

Andrew: [00:40:18] I was a little hybrid action going on. Very cool. Thanks for all the info.

Before we go deeper we'll start wrapping up, but first, do you have any stories that you want to share? Because we like to ask, you never know what comes up.

Stephen: [00:40:38] Yeah. One of my, I think one of my favorite fatherhood stories was when I realized that I just was, I did not have the patience for kids. And so I have twins, like I mentioned, and when we were still in Kansas city, we had just moved into this new house had white carpet and white walls and the formal living room.

And so my wife and I are in the other room, our kids are in their plan and we're in the midst of potty training which is trying for any adult. And especially when you have two kids you're trying to potty train. And one of the ways you can do that is by not putting a diaper on them, you just let them free ball.

And they recommend nice that they don't have anything on hopefully, and they don't go to the bathroom. So we hear this uh, Oh, from the other room. so we go in there. One of the twins has pooped on the wall and it slid down the wall to the carpet and then the other one was standing in it. I just, at that point, like my wife, it doesn't bother her at all. I don't know what it is about moms, but their kid's poop doesn't bother them for me. I was mortified. I just, I was like frozen. I didn't know what to do. You know, Like a deer in the headlights. And so she starts like yelling at me, like get the kids, get them in the shower. And so I grabbed the kids covered in poop.

By the throat, yeah.

To the shower. And so like I mentioned, this is a new house. The people who owned it before were an elderly couple who I don't think they ever used this bathroom anymore. And so it has a removable shower head, and I try to get the shower head to turn on.

Cause there's like a little knob to turn it on from the faucet, and I can't get the shower head to turn on, so I can't get the kids washed off the poop. That's just all over him at this point. And they're like screaming and crying and there's two of them. They're like trying to climb out my wife's yelling at me to like, get them clean and get her, you know, like gloves to clean up the floor. And I think at that point I just realized I have a lot to learn about like my limits and controlling my temper and That there are things that are just going to push my patients and there's nothing you can do about that. So,

Andrew: [00:42:42] Daniel is looking into the crystal ball in six months.

Daniel: [00:42:46] I'm just a thing in the Lord that my walls aren't white and we've got hardwood floors. So

Andrew: [00:42:52] this is a lesson for me not to have children is how I'm taking this. so

Stephen: [00:42:57] I am at three. so I have

the twins, so yeah, I got two for one. And then uh, the third one, my wife was like, you know what? I want to have just a normal pregnancy feel what it's like to have a baby without being on bed rest and like being up all night with two different kids. And so we had another kid and he's wonderful.

Definitely the third child, he gets away with everything.

Andrew: [00:43:19] I can't believe you fell for that line, that she fed you, but whatever.

Stephen: [00:43:23] You know, It took a little convincing, but got there.

Andrew: [00:43:26] Hey, honey, I don't really want another kid. I just, want to see what it's like. And you're like, Oh yeah, we could just try this out. And the next year, and you're like, wait a second. These things are permanent.

Stephen: [00:43:34] I was definitely down for practicing,

Andrew: [00:43:35] that's good. I hope Bailey doesn't listen to this. I'm going to get in trouble somehow. Let's bring it back to the one story that the three of us share. What were you thinking when you did the mortar or trail? Because a lot of people, hopefully that are listening, have done more door and anybody that's not listening has an open invite to reach out to me and I will take them to more doors.

So what is more Dora in what was so special about it for you and what do you think about Daniel and me after that moment?

Daniel: [00:44:03] this is just Andrew, trying to find a way to embarrass me by the way. So don't fall for his bait.

Stephen: [00:44:11] Yeah, no mortar or I was really excited about, because I didn't know that kind of trail existed in Texas. I grew up in Houston, which is just as flat, but with less rocks and. Opportunity to climb things. And was pretty excited except for after about 500 yards and my legs were killing me.

Cause the first part of that hike is horrible.

It's real steep and real loose, but yeah I wasn't sure what to expect. Cause you talked about this, this trail that looks like Mort, or you get to the top and then there's this crevice and you climb down in it. And I was like, man, I don't know am I going to die?

I don't know if I trust Andrew this much. But it turned out that's still one of my favorite truths. I Love that trail. Just, it has so many opportunities to fall and hurt yourself and and a great reward at the end. I do remember the time that we took a whole group of people on it and they were not hikers and we absolutely terrified them.

Andrew: [00:45:06] I think I carried one, one of the girls over my shoulder cause they stopped on the bridge at the top. And I was like, we're not doing this right now. Like we still have half the hike to go. And they're like, we're just going to sit here. And I was like, Nope, just pick them up.

Stephen: [00:45:17] but yeah, I mean, it's, as far as Daniel, I. I had heard about you, Daniel. And here, you were like, Andrew's old friends and here I am. Andrew's new friend. And I was like, man, what's is this going to be like, tension-filled

are we fighting over the



Daniel: [00:45:35] I did find a knife in the bathroom, so fate was trying to push us towards something.

Andrew: [00:45:39] You know, That's a good place for a knife. I'm just saying like, if the wound doesn't kill you, the Falwell. So like there's definitely going to be a clear cut winner.

Stephen: [00:45:46] I was excited to get to do something with other people who were willing to take that chance and take that risk. So I'm always down, if someone wants to go and do something a little uh, over the edge and get our adrenaline up. Hey, I'm on board.

Andrew: [00:46:00] I like it.

I think that to death, defying, canyons, and climbs and all that kind of stuff is a good stopping place. Steven, thank you so much for coming on. Like everybody else that has come on.

I know you are having to take time out of your day, time out of your family's day and everything that goes along with that. So, Daniel, I both truly appreciate you being willing to come on and talk to us about things that you know, can be uncomfortable and a little vulnerability there. So thank you so much for joining us.

Stephen: [00:46:31] Yeah, thanks for having me happy to talk. And like I said, I. You're one of my closest friends, Andrew, and I've certainly gained a lot from you and a lot from your experience and what you and Daniel wrote and which we'll talk about. uh, Happy to share, hopefully it was a little insightful for someone.

Andrew: [00:46:46] I hope so too. I bet Everett will be because there's a lot of people that, You can't not learn from this, it's a new experience. I don't know anybody else. Who's done the things you've done. So hopefully somebody is listening like, Hey, let's now I know about train masters and twins and you know, not to trust Andrew and Daniel in the Canyon.

So I dig it. Well, Guys, thank you so much for listening yet again on this episode, we're really glad you guys are sticking with us on this. So thank you all. And we look forward to connecting with you soon.