Raleigh’s “Open Source” Network, Growth Mindset, and Power of Diversity: Matt Sheehan, Part 1

Exhale Home CEO Matt Sheehan gave so many quoatables and pieces of wisdom that we had to separate his interview into two parts. On Part 1, Matt gives the life lessons his parents taught him (“The clock of life is wound but once”), why his family chose Raleigh out of all the cities in the world, and what Exhale is all about.


Donald Thompson: Welcome to the Donald Thompson Podcast. I am really encouraged today; I have a good friend of mine here with us. Entrepreneur, investor, business leader, Mr. Matt Sheehan, Matt, welcome to the show. 

Matt Sheehan: Yeah, thanks so much for having me. 

Donald Thompson: One of the things that we like to do on our show before we dig into kind of the business context and the lessons that we’ll learn from one another today is we want to know you as a person.

Take a few minutes and just talk to us about where are you from your family, things that make you “you”. 

Matt Sheehan: Sure. Happy to, let me start with my wife and my kids now. So, I’m happily married to a woman of 15 years, Tricia, I married way up if you know what that means. Rungs above where I am, three kids.

Cavin, who’s 12, Riley, who’s 10, and Grady, who’s eight. We have a lot of love in the house, a lot of energy, and there’s always plenty of stuff going on at home. So that’s, you know, I’ll start there. Moved to a Raleigh area nine months ago. So, I’m still a newbie to the network here and really loving everybody opening their arms.

Well, I think we’ll come back to that early because I’ve noticed some things about the atmosphere around here and how welcoming it is. So, I want to come back to that in a little bit. Born and raised a middle-class family, middle-class town, 10 minutes north of Boston.  you’ll hear a little bit of Boston accent in me.

Although my brother from Boston says you’re losing it kid. So, I don’t know where I am, a little stranger in all parts, but so love the middle-class background. A lot of middle-class upbringings and values my education, Bentley university, right outside of Boston, and then Penn State to get my grad degree.

I went there for a whole bunch of reasons. I think fate was, that’s where I met my wife, so I’m pretty sure that’s why I went, but great, great school. Career has spanned whole bunch of things, mostly emerging growth companies. I was in home grocery delivery before for anybody knew there was such a thing a long 25 years ago.

So, from that perspective, I love the growth stuff I’ve been with companies like big companies, like IBM. Companies like Redbox long before anybody knew what it was.  Primo water, which is publicly traded and now starting my own. You know, if I can, for a minute, Donald, I think a lot about the impact that my parents had had on me.

And I wanted to share maybe three quick stories. I carry so much of them with me today as a leader that I think we’ll probably go there today, I wanted to get ahead of that a bit. One was. My dad, we heated our house with wood, just a little bit of oil, but a lot of wood. And so, I would all have these iconic memories of my dad chopping wood in the backyard.

One day he came in the house with the axe in his hand, sweating, and he looked at me and he looked at my mom and he said, Matty, because when you’re from Boston, I don’t know why, but you put a Y after everybody’s name. Okay, so he came in with ax hand, said Matty it’s time. And I knew what was about to go through a ritual, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.

And my mom had a concerned look on her face, and my dad said, Bethy I got it. Puts his arm around me with his left hand, axes in the right hand, and he said, you’re eight years old. We heat this house with wood. It’s your time to do your part. So, I’m a little freaked out, but I know my dad’s putting weight on my shoulders at this point and he hands me the ax and he says, I’m going to teach you.

And then you’re going to cut the rest for the rest of the day. And he did, now, he ordered a cord of wood. Have you ever split wood before? Yeah, it’s a cord. Half a cord is a lot for an eight-year-old to a cord. I was out there all day long, sweating, tired, blisters, the whole deal. Afterwards he said, one you’re now, really part of the family, you’re doing your part.

And two, I want you to understand that work should be hard and hard work matters.

Full Episode Transcript

The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by The Diversity Movement CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit Earfluence.com.

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