The best advice to entrepreneurs, kids any of that stuff. Simon Sinek, Start With Why. One of the best books I’ve ever read just about life in general. It really is more of a business manual. But he starts with most people talk about what they do, how they do it, and then eventually get to why they do it. But the people who really change the world. His example on YouTube, Tick tock. He talks about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Apple Computers, and the Wright brothers. And the Wright brothers weren’t the only people working on airplanes at the time. About four, five, or six other groups, all of which were better funded, had better talent, even had more prospects as far as what to do once you got this thing off the ground. But the Wright brothers were just mad dog passionate about this concept.
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Let’s jump right into the show. Welcome The Waz of Fulton County Mark Gerl. Welcome to the show, Mark.
Thank you, Neal, happy to be here.
So I think I kind of caught you off guard because you read the description and you just kind of like, wow, I’m a teacher. What do I have to offer this audience?
and I think that with your background and the fact that you’re working with students is your opportunity to launch the next Steve Jobs, the next Bill Gates. So why don’t you give the audience a little bit of who you are?
OK, so my name is Mark. Your title is Innovation Director Foltyn Academy of Science and Technology. Been there for years since the beginning. And before that I was a computer teacher, technology coordinator, just all around nerd at the Galloway School, cool down in Buckhead and really even before that was in computer sales, network design and really kind of looking at this technology world as the ultimate creative playground, as one opportunity to go from computer sales to now computer education and then computer education into the broader project based learning, the STEM aspects of it all. You know, everything is just taking the core concept of that outrageous creative opportunity. Grow it, grow and expand it a little bit more. And now fast. It’s all right. How can I take all of those opportunities and hand them off to, you know, the kids who are going to be the ones who change the world?
So, I mean, I guess what is project based learning?
So project based learning, it really comes about how you learn or what really is considered learning. When I was a kid back in the 70s and 80s, it was really about rote memorization. You read your timetables and you passed. If you could do all 144 in under two minutes, didn’t count, didn’t matter if you understood that six times, seven was six sevens and you’re counting them. All you do know was six and seven was 42. And then with project based learning, it’s really getting into the. How do you figure out that six times seven is 42. And if you want to do that with, you know, six pods of seven gummy worms and you count each gummy worm, or if you want to do tick marks, or it really is just more about giving you an opportunity to work through the facts and have the aha moment of, oh, six times seven really means six, seven times. There it is. And then you start applying that to things like, you know, social studies. OK, why do countries go to war? War is probably the biggest definer of historic moments. So is it always about political differences or is it about money? Is it about expansion? Is some of it just petty jealousy? So how do you then prove that and then you start looking at original documents, you start looking at what footage we may have or what photographs, and it really now becomes not just, oh, you know, 492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. It’s Columbus had these motivating factors. He goes to Spain because Spain aligns with those motivating factors. He wants the gold from the trade, you know, and you start really understanding, oh, this Columbus guy really isn’t the hero we think he is. And he never really did what we say he did. So. OK, now, project based, maybe Columbus really becomes a different talking point in our history classes. What about George Washington? What about, you know, you go back even the War of 1812, the Spanish, you know, you can start exploring any topic, but here’s the project and the project. Isn’t your final outcome literally doing the project is how you learn. You’re exploring, you’re picking it apart. You’re putting the pieces together. So when we talk about project based learning, instead of me as a teacher lecturing and the students trying to remember everything I say, it’s here’s your challenge. I want you to figure out who actually discovered America. And then you’re going to have one kid who goes, oh, well, it was Leif Ericson. And another kid is going to go, hey, wait, there were a whole bunch of people here before anyone showed up. You can’t say discovered America. You can just say showed up.
And so that when we talk Project-Based Learning, it really is flipping that idea of I’m not telling you what you need to know, I’m giving you a place for you to figure it out.
Got it. So I think in that summary that you just gave, I knew that he was going to be passionate and so talked about it. Right. And I was like, I really want because I had several people on the show before. And the topic of education always comes up. And for entrepreneurs, including myself, we always get frustrated knowing that we pay thousands of dollars to go to school. We learnt a trade and we have no idea how to monetize it or what the hell to do with this trade.
But your environment is a completely different upbringing of the next generation of potential leaders for tomorrow.
It really is. And one of the things I like about the way we’re trying to do it, you know, and again, it’s not always a success, but we’re trying it really comes to what drives that student. And so you may have a student who’s a fantastic musician. So every way that she processes the information, it either becomes a song or, you know, relates to a song. You may have a kid who’s a you know, everything is about acting. And so all of his projects become a script or sock puppet theater. You may have a kid who just loves to write and now becomes a here are the things I want you to learn. History, science. You know, these are the important things. But now it’s about what? How do you show me that you’ve learned this? And then that then becomes for the entrepreneurs. OK, what is your driving passion? Is it just making tons of money? OK, well does that then become stock trading? Do you find a niche market that no one’s explored yet? Can you redefine a market that’s in decline and revitalize that some new way or just outhustle the next guy down the road? The old saying there’s two different ways to make a million dollars, one dollar a million times or a million dollars once?
Yeah, definitely. Definitely.
So I guess this is back up and it’s getting a little bit of your history. I mean, define yourself in three words.
Oh, oh. Creative is a big one. I love making the things. The next one would be unusual because if everyone can do it then I don’t want to do it. And then curious, it’s not enough to know that this works. I want to know how it works. Why does it work? You know, if I tweak this, how does that change? So I’m going to say curious, creative and unusual.
Cool, cool. So being that you’re teaching these kids to think differently and with the intent that potentially they’re going to be leaders and entrepreneurs, did you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I really didn’t. Everything come into a kind of stumble into almost backwards, started off wanting to be an aerospace engineer and. Failed miserably at that college level. Then a friend of mine said, well, have you ever thought about youth ministry? You know, you love church and went into that, got a degree in it, and then realized there is no way in the world you’re going to you can’t support a family, much less enjoy life as a youth pastor, which then got into. Well, the thing that I’ve always gravitated to were computers. You know, my older brother brought home a treaty
And I remember, you know, teaching myself basic as a kind of that’s programming languages for people and old school programming languages. But it was I just kind of found an opportunity and went and found an opportunity, went and literally was never thinking of myself as an entrepreneur or I’m going to come up with the next new thing, really, until a friend of mine who is a venture capitalist, he said it was right around when Uber and all that was coming out and the word disruption was everywhere. He said, what would it take to disrupt education? And I said, OK, off the top of my head, two billion dollars. You give me two billion dollars, I will give you the ultimate new school. It was not enough. Too much. Cut it in half and give me a budget so I go home, sketch it all out. OK, I can do the ultimate school for one billion dollars. Nothing and still too much. Cut it in half again. Finally get it down to 500 million. And I mean like, you know, here’s the state of the art computer lab and here is this. Everything is shiny and that goes, no, no, no, no, no. Five hundred’s a little on the high side. Get two PhDs to look this over. And if they vet it, I’ll take it to an investment group,
And so the only time I’ve ever considered myself an entrepreneur actually had this business plan of a new school. And I took it to two PhDs and I just said, you know, can you look this over, find any mistake possible? Where have I gone wrong? Give it back to me. And they both kind of looked and went. This is actually a really good idea. So they signed the bottom of it, handed it back to my buddy. He actually took it to the investment group and they came back with five hundred million, still too much, cut it in half again. And so that time I’m like, OK, I’m not even going to have it anymore. Got it down to one hundred and fifty million dollars for 150 million dollars, opening the ultimate learning experience and keep it funded for ten years. And at the end of ten years, I should have enough graduates and people who have seen this work that I could go to Department of Education, the governor, president, anyone who wants like you want to see what education be spent two hours on this campus. The only time I’ve ever thought of myself as an entrepreneur. I have been shopping that plan for the last five years. It’s like someone out there has one hundred and fifty million dollars that wants to revamp education.
So let’s just dive into that a little bit more. I mean, you’re talking about what age group, what demographic are you more college, high school.
So so I’m actually it’s the plan is grade six to 12 and it’s kind of on the smaller side of a school. Each grade will have about four classes for groups of 25 students. So it’ll end up being about 800 kids, give or take. And then really kind of changing the way we talk about what is learning. And the three big problems that I see with schools that we have right now, the way we teach teachers, the way we define student success and the way we design the places that we do it in. And so basically, I want to change those three elements. The teachers, most of them have master’s degrees. You’ve really been in it. You got really a teacher until you’ve done it for three years is the norm. And they’re still making less than 50000 a year,
Yeah. And at the same time, general manager at a QuikTrip gas station is making 55. So we’re losing talent to. Gas station managers, we need the best and the brightest in our schools, and then we need to give them a place to do their job. So probably 80 percent of that 150 million is teacher salaries. I don’t want to start them at 65000 and you get three years. So where I’m kind of stealing from a law firm, you got three years to prove you are really dedicated to being creative, being passionate about teaching. You’re committed to this project. At the end of three years. I’ll bump you up to 75000 at 75000. You’ve got seven years. So you’re almost going from like a junior partner to a partner. And then over the seven years, I want you talking with your colleagues about what worked, what didn’t. Going to conferences and stealing from the best ideas, presenting at conferences. You’re, you know, almost marketing at that point, but you’re also constantly adjusting what worked, what didn’t, what worked, what didn’t. And you can kind of gauge, oh, hey, in February, I can’t do the same lesson that I would have done in March because just, you know, it’s gray is gloomy. I need more inside quiet activities. And then come late March, early April, we can do the bigger and the bolder. You show me that you’re really into being a great teacher at the end of seven years. I want to promote you to a master teacher. And really, that master level isn’t just you’ve made it to the seven year mark. It’s you’ve got seven years of a portfolio of outstanding creative lessons. No, I’m not going to fire you at the end of seven, but I’m not going to promote you just because you’ve hit the seven year mark and then, you know, in the pipeline, here’s all of these three year young kids coming up. If there’s someone coming up that’s more dedicated, I know how to look at a teacher and go, what are you doing that I want to keep you? And so, yeah, I’m willing to give them more money, but also hold them to that professional standard.
But I think when you get to that demographic and I think your formula is so, I think the only variable in that in that formula that I would look at shifting, in my opinion, would be more of an equity share, right?
because you’re talking more about business people that are going to step into that space.
And if you’re not thinking about an employee at that point, how you taking more of a partnership?
So if you think I’m more of a partnership and you give them an opportunity at seven years.
To have equity ownership, then I think you would have more of an allegiance or the trading of OK, seven years. I’m like a doctor. I’m going to move on and do my specialty over here. I really want my experience. I want the next hospital.
I’m thinking if I don’t know how to work
well, that’s where education becomes this odd little outlier. There is no money other than tax money. So you could have the greatest product in the world. You’re not getting any more money out of it. And so I kind of love Daniel Pink’s book Drive. He kind of did the research. There are three things that if you you know, up until 75000, it doesn’t matter what you do. Money is the biggest motivator. After 75000, you could give them more money, but you’re not getting more output. And so what he found was at that 75000 mark, the three biggest motivators are mastery, autonomy and purpose. And so purpose. That’s a teacher’s dream. We’re all here for the kids. We got purpose. Autonomy is the big one, because so much of what a teacher has to do, you know, were dictated by the standards. The school buys the curriculum. You have to use the curriculum. You have to get this kind of scores on the milestones. And I’m like, screw all of that. No, no, no. I want you as a teacher. Give the students a way to show what they understand in a learning environment. And so the autonomy really goes from the teacher to the students. I’m giving you as a teacher the chance to show me what you can teach you as a student, show me what you’ve learned and if it’s, again, song and dance routine, if it’s a video play, if it’s a paper, if you really want a test, cool, we’ll give you a test to put. The autonomy is the place where education really can open the doors because we don’t have to be a cookie cutter. In fact, we shouldn’t be.
shouldn’t be a cookie cutter.
And I think also part of that OK, look at it from the standpoint of once you graduate from college and I went through a journey myself, graduate from college and I got a graphic design degree, I got a web design, a multimedia degree, and I use it on a regular basis. But I went back to school so many different times and I didn’t go back to a physical school. I went on. Line learning, right, right, right. So I took workshops and I went to seminars and I that did online webinars and every single bit of information that I’ve got, I’ve compiled it into my growth process.
So why wouldn’t you guys look at potentially doing that now? Like I remember in college, the only time I really enjoy causes, we had like a weekend, like a fundraiser where it was like 20 of us and we had to build a website in 12 hours.
And so you had this website, you built it and then you donated it at the end of the 12 hours. But you were working towards a goal the whole time versus an exam or score. Right.
Right. And see, there’s a movement towards that. Actually, the program at Kenesaw for Masters, they’re calling it the online learning revolution. And so. There’s actually a whole program just based on how do you design an online learning experience, and I think where that will become what you’re describing is when the schools realize it doesn’t have to be a semester long, it could be I’m going to do a 12 hour class boom and then the student can take my 12 hour class any time they want in that journey towards where they want to be. I could do a 24 hour class. I could do a six week class. We’re we’re kind of stuck at the moment, is the assessment part of it states, the government all say, you know, it has to be a test. And to me, that’s the worst thing in the world for assessing real learning, because it’s always at the end of the year. It’s always this marathon, you know, three hours with pencil and paper or three hours in front of a computer screen. You’re not thinking. You’re stressed, you’re not at your best. So how is that a real judgment of what you’ve learned?
Society, right. Right. Right.
And it’s a holdover from like the 80s. So we’re already 120 years out of that model.
Yeah, I think it still exists because doctors still have to take exams, loincloths, exams, insurance agents, anybody trading stock is all cramming random information in your head that may or may never use again.
Right. And to me, the fact that. Here’s the thing that you may or may not ever use, but you need it in case you do. Where my passion as a gamer comes in video games have this brilliant concept called a skill tree, and, you know, you start a World of Warcraft, you’re a level one. You know, can you hit this button and swing your sword? OK, swing your sword ten times you kill these 10 monsters, you’re now a level one sword.
OK, go out, swing three different ways. You know, level two sword. Oh, OK. You can’t just fight with a sword now you need a bow and arrow. Oh you can’t just fight all the time. You also need to fish to get food. And so every time you learn this new skill in the game, you click on a picture and here’s the map of all of the skills that are available to you, the winds you’re at now and what’s available next. And then beyond the next is, you know, the entire range of knowledge. What I would love to see our schools develop a similar kind of. All right, let’s start with math. Can you count your level one math? Can you use a no scale to count your level two? OK, so now you can see that if you’re at three and you count four or five, six, three plus three is six, we’ve just figured out addition. You’re a level three math and. OK, so now coming back to math three plus three plus three three three times three times three. Now you’ve just unlocked multiplication unlock division. Now let’s unlock exponents. Now let’s unlock logarithms. And so I can show you what I’ve learned through this skill tree. And then as a doctor, I can say, OK, I know how to do diagnostics. I know how to read the vitals chart. I know how to if there’s this unknown rash, I know how to at least go to the medical journals and look for. Well, I know it’s not measles, mumps, rubella. So what else could it be? And, you know, as a stock trader, I know here are these different laws that I cannot violate. But can I be creative with this opportunity? And so as more and more professions can say, hey, look, here’s the skill in the information, don’t show it to me on a test, build a portfolio of you, demonstrate that you understand that concept anyway you want. Imagine somebody on the New York Stock Exchange floor taking a video explaining the buying and selling of stocks right there as it happens. That’s a fantastic version of OK, I know how, you know, not to cause a panic on the floor. All right, there’s my check mark, I know I can’t make a bid on this because my brother is the CEO of that company and he had three too many drinks last night,
insider trading. Right, right, right.
So, OK, let’s do a video of what is insider trading that woman now has a check for. I understand insider trading. Not only has she developed mastery, anyone can come behind her, use her resource and go, oh, I can learn about insider trading from her. Now, here’s my video about it. And so not only are you showing what you’ve learned, you’re helping the people behind you learn as well.
Got it. So. Currently, where you are right now, I think you’re like probably leaps and bounds above any other teacher in the game right now. I mean, you remind me of like a young was. Right.
Thank you. I think that. Yeah.
So how long? I mean, we always hear about the 20 years that it takes somebody to become successful. And the reality is almost like an overnight success. How long did it take you to get to where you are right now? I mean, you have a lot of philosophy. You have a lot of passion. And I’m sure I just didn’t jump out one day.
it happened over a period of time. How long was that?
So if we just look at my educational career, technically 15 years more realistically, my mother would tell you 50 years because I just turned 51 this month.
Thank you. You know, she would talk about when I would be a kid and reading all of these education books and, you know, being 12 years old and reading her psychology of education, her joke was she was pregnant with me when she was taking her teaching classes. And so I knew who John Dewey was before I knew who Santa Claus was. And so kind of coming back to your journey. My journey as a teacher has literally been my whole life. Now it’s been more formal and peaks and valleys. But again, this is my driving passion because it has been you know, my mother was a teacher. My grandmother was a teacher. Great grandma was a teacher. It’s the family business. It’s kind of been background noise for 50 years. It’s been a formative experience, 15 years. But this current you know, the entrepreneurial model that I’m trying to develop has really only been about the last five or six. And so. Yeah. Is it an overnight sensation? No. If someone listening to this podcast has the 150 million that they want to donate to the cause to an outsider, that’s going to look like an overnight sensation. Always. Oh, what’s the real story? 50 years, 15 years, five years or overnight? D All of the above. All of you above. Yeah.
So I mean, you just hinted to your family, well what is your your work life family look like? I mean, how do you juggle that? I mean, I think you’re one of those people that once you start working everything, kind of just it becomes tunnel vision, right?
It does, yeah. So my wife has used the term work mode, OK? And when I’m in work mode, the entire rest of the world disappears. And then she understands that it takes me about an hour to transition from work mode to family mode. But I’m also in family mode. The work life completely disappears. And so, you know, when I’m home, you know, both my boys are grown. So I don’t have to deal a lot with playing with the kids and stuff like that anymore. But when I’m home, I’m home. Unless there is a message alert that has the little, you know, urgent warning. I don’t read my emails at home. I will check my email before I leave for work. It’s 6:00 in the morning. I will check my email one last time for when I get home. Other than that, I check my personal email, but I don’t do schoolwork at home. And at the same time, my school time, I’m focused on how can I give the best things to my kids? I can’t be worried about my son’s homework or any of this thing. So where I’m focused, I’m focused. But that focus shifts place to place.
So what’s your morning routines? And I mean, I see early in the morning at carpool, so you’re going to have to start started like five or.
It does. Yeah, I get up to five, shower, comb the beard, all the kind of stuff, breakfast. And I usually check like Twitter and Facebook more so for OK, what’s the big idea that’s floating around right now, at least in education? I get a lot more from Twitter than I do from Facebook really well. And I think Twitter has become the go to because it’s short, quick and pointed so I can put in hashtag PBO or hashtag Project-Based Learning and I’m only getting Project-Based Learning 280 characters in, out, done. And so if I can’t catch someone’s attention and 280 characters, I’m on to the next give me the next feed given the next feed.
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but then there will be that one, my new hobby, it’s called wearable technology, and there are these amazing women who are doing fashion designs that have computers and LEDs and motors embedded into the fashion. And this whole new realm of not only do you dress for the environment, your clothes adapt to the environment.
Yeah, I’m dying for that to be mainstream.
Oh, the one that blew me away. I won’t say her name. I forget her name because I keep going to Sophie Wang’s feet. This lady made a skirt, the him of the skirts, the New York skyline. It looks cool, but then the windows light up and there’s a little microcomputer on her hip with a microphone. And so if she’s at a club and there’s music playing, the lights of the skyline bump like a view. Meet her, the ladies and the twinkles if it’s quiet. And so you really have this adaptive, interactive fashion that’s like everyone should be doing something like that. And yeah, like you said, when does that become mainstream?
I think Amazon is touching about it now. Yeah, the echo glasses is coming. Yes, yes. I’m on that waiting list. I’m like, oh, call me, please send me a message. And they got the echo ring as well, too, which is not necessarily new technology.
But the fact that it’s on Amazon will make it mainstream technology.
So I’m really looking forward to seeing that go in and seeing what people do with it. I mean, like you said, once you get to the point where you have a ring and you start apply APIs to it. Yep. Then you’re opening up car doors. You’re at the grocery store making purchases. You’re doing all these things that you do on a daily day thing that now you wouldn’t have to think about doing it
right. See, I think that’s where it becomes a game changer. Can you do something without really thinking about it? I was fortunate. I got one of the Google Glass. Nice, and it was fantastic. I even like I took it to school a couple of times, would let the kids play with it and then it became OK, but what next? And because there really wasn’t that secondary market for the APIs, for the plug ins, for all these other things. And it never was really fashionable.
Yeah, it was bulk. It was uncomfortable and it just looked weird, you know, and, you know, everyone became a glass hole.
, I think the technology was fantastic. But people had to focus on how do I use it, whereas, you know, the ring and our phones, you don’t even think about how do I use my phone? Do you just start tapping?
Yeah, I think the next is more so. Voice Oh, yeah. Voice is just going to be called voice. I mean, you just have so many commands and once it kind of transpires into a conversation.
it’s going to be over. Oh yeah. Because now it’s like one command and one syllable kind of things. Do this. Wait then do this. Wait it’s like if then statement. Right.
But once you get to the point where we’re like having a conversation, do all these different things. The sky’s the limit. Oh, absolutely, and you add an augmented reality to that,
It’s a whole nother ballgame.
Absolutely. Where education comes in now, you start thinking in terms of. Why does it become important to have a decent vocabulary? OK, you’re now talking to. A device that is literally connected to the entire repository of all human knowledge literally is OK. So I want to use a word like marvellous as opposed to pretty shiny or I want to use epic in a purposeful, meaningful way. And so, you know, when a kid comes up, I was like, why do I have to have vocabulary words? You are now talking to Shakespeare. You could have a virtual conversation with William Shakespeare. You could have a conversation with Aristotle, you could have a conversation with, you know, ADA Lovelace. If you’re talking to a Lovelace, yo, what’s up? You know, you want to present yourself as worthy of this conversation, build your vocabulary. Now, at the same time, you’re going to meet real people, build your vocabulary. You want to understand why these people are important. You know, that comes back to why am I learning it? I want a good grade. No, no, no, no, no. You want to learn these things because you’re now connected to everyone in the world. How is everyone in the world going to look at you when you start talking, when you present yourself, when you have these conversations? So now education has just taken on a whole new meaning?
Definitely has. So, I mean, it seems like you’re always on what time do you go to bed with your your nightly routines look like?
Depending on the day in the week last couple of weeks, just big projects at school, big projects at home. I fall asleep in the chair in front of the TV about eight thirty and then wake up around ten zombi walk to fall back into bed on a Friday night. I can usually stay up and read a little bit more till about eleven, eleven thirty. Go to bed. If I’m not overly stressed, we usually have dinner around six thirty seven, seven thirty, depending on when the food is made, seven thirty to eight thirty, I’m reading I’m watching a TV show, picking up this, figuring something out. Eight thirty, trying not to fall asleep by about nine 30. I’ve fallen asleep regardless. And then in bed by 10:00. So yeah.
So with the situation that you brought up in the beginning of this conversation about the one hundred and fifty million. Right. Right. Where do you see yourself? In 20 years. And think about it from the standpoint if that and I’m saying if because it’s highly possible. Oh yeah, in the next five years you get the 150 million.
Where would you see yourself 20 years from now?
So what I would love to see if I got the magic genie and three wishes. So one running this project, you know, a 10 year ultimate school project. What worked, what didn’t. One of the things I love about Google, they have that X Labs project where here’s a wild idea. Just take it. Run with it. What happens? OK, if it worked now, it’s viable. Turn it into a project. If it didn’t work, what did we learn from it? Run that project for ten years. And then at the end of 10 years, almost keeping the school running, but now turning it into a demonstration school, other teachers, other school administrators from around the world coming in, observing, how does this work? Let’s do a teacher training now. Take these ideas back to the rest of the world. And then ideally even coming up to, you know, would love to be like secretary of education either for the state of Georgia or for the feds and then say, OK, look, now that I’m in a position of influence. We’re going to stop the nonsense, OK? We know test scores don’t work. I’m going to be bold enough to say if we know they don’t work, stop using them. But I’ve got to earn, you know, the bone, a fetus to be able to get to that point, to say we know these don’t work. So run the program, build the influence. Have, you know, look, I can make this thing work. Now, let me make this work on a district level, a state level, a national level. Let’s change everything.
Are definitely interesting, don’t you think that’s going to be a bit of a hurdle, I mean, even if you become this huge influencer, right?
with the society that we live in, if it’s not capitalism, it’s not socialism. It is not. I mean, that’s related to that. Yeah. Completely that we live in. Right. Oh yeah. How would that work. I mean, they’re using the test scores essentially to kind of organize and move whether you can be white collar, blue collar, white.
That’s why I want to come back to this skill tree. I need to find a database on the fly data visualization program or whatever. So here’s a nice framework a teacher can put in the projects. It shows up on the student’s screen. Students can upload the artefact of what they’ve learned. Teacher gives feedback, student responds. The whole thing is, you know, it’s almost like an Instagram feed blended with a World of Warcraft skill tree. Now, here’s a product. OK, that product can then be integrated into, you know, power school, canvas, Google classroom, any of these other things that’s off and running where I think schools really need, you know, even if we, you know, socialism or capitalism, they’re socialism. You still have things you have to pay for. And so there should be choices for parents to say, hey, look, you know, this school down the road is stuck in the 50s. We either need a new principal or we need an option to send my kids someplace new. So there should be some market influence there. On the other side. I don’t want the military going to the lowest bidder on a contract. I want, you know, the Army and the Navy and the Air Force to have competent working machines. And the taxes are willing to pay for those. So we pay for the military, we pay for the police. We pay for the roads. I want the best roads in the country and I’m willing to pay for them. I also want the best schools. And so where I think on either side of those, once we redefine what school should be, if we move more towards socialism. All right. Every school should now have these hallmarks of excellence and the schools who don’t. There should be some repercussions to that. Capitalism goes wild. Look, there are still things we as a people want to pay for. Education should be fairly high on that list. I love this quote from the author, John Green. He’s like, the reason I don’t mind paying taxes for schools even though I don’t have kids of my own, I don’t want to live in a nation of stupid people. And so when the large market of the populace agrees, hey, look, I’m willing to pay a slightly higher tax rate if I get better people coming out. But the way to get better people coming out is we don’t want the robotic test scores. I want to see the dancers dance. I want to see the musicians play. I want to see the writers write on the same time. I want to see the engineers building things. I want to see the mechanics fix. So whether it’s blue collar, white color doesn’t matter. I want, you know, the girl with grease under her fingernails who can rebuild a 67 Chevy.
I want to know who she is at 15 and bring her into my hot rod shop or, you know, set her up with an internship at the same time. If there’s a boy over here who’s a brilliant dancer, I want him to have the opportunities to dance here. Read in the afternoon, dance in the morning, school at night. We really have to start redefining school is not this. You’re right. Not a chore. Not even factory work. You know, it’s like, you know, you come into fifth grade, you have to do the things we process. You you go on to sixth grade. If you don’t, we reprocess you again. It’s like I don’t want 24 exact copies. The fifth graders
I was like you said, I mean, back in the 30s, they needed that
exactly right. That’s where school got stuck. You know, I love educational history because you can actually see, like, you know, from 1776 to the eighties, there really wasn’t the concept of school. You had the universities like Harvard and Yale, but they were specifically for doctor, lawyer, you know, philosopher. They were a high end training. You still had merchants who were teaching their apprentices math. You still had silversmiths, you still had farmers. There was still people educating. You just didn’t go to school for it. And you were taught the trade, right? Yeah. But you still had you know, Paul Revere was a silversmith. That was his trade. The man was still brilliant. And so we start getting into this. Oh, you’re a mechanic. No, I am the world’s best mechanic. One of my college summer jobs. I worked at a garage shop with this guy, but he only worked on Fords only before 1959. So anything with a Ford Flathead V8, he could do magic with that engine. Hmm. And you know, Billy Gibbons from Tops, we have this letter in the shop. Billy Gibbons called Tony about getting a motor for the eliminator is like, no, no, no, because you’re putting a Ford in a willis’. And I don’t do that. Yeah, but, you know, someone will look and go, oh, well, you’re just a mechanic. So, no, this guy could work magic with a wrench. And here’s his proof. Here’s all of the engines that he’s built over the years.
I think, to your credit, think media has expanded on that, like.
shows the reality shows. And you kind of don’t look at mechanics the same. You all look at tattoo artist the same. You look at all these different people that have all these, like, individual traits that were underdog’s per say. Right. In a completely different light.
Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Wow. Yeah. All right. So what tools you would not be able to do what you do without?
Ooo.. First and foremost. And this is going somewhere. Pen and paper. OK, I have about 45 journals.
. And I’m a huge fan of the zebra f three or four pen. It’s the solid metal body with the rubber grip on the top and, you know, point seven, fine point ballpoint pen, it just feels good in your hand as you write it. And so, you know, I tell my students, like, look, any project I start if it’s a new program I flowchart, if it’s a new build, a sketch, if it’s even just a new writing assignment, I outline, but I get my ideas out first so I cannot do anything without pen and paper. And then after that, give me a good computer. And by good reliable I’ve got an HP running Windows 10 at home. I’ve got more Raspberry Pi little pocket computers and I know what to do with I’ve used Macs. I used to, you know, have a nice 27 inch. The brand really doesn’t matter. But a consistent I know where things are and I can if I don’t have Photoshop or word or, you know, whatever I need, I have a way to go out and get it. So number one, pencil and paper, number two, some kind of connected computer. And then after that, it depends on the project. You know, give me a soldering iron, give me a socket wrench, basically give me Amazon and whatever I need to get it. I get it in 24 hours. Yeah.
So what final words of wisdom would you like to leave behind for up and coming entrepreneurs, business owners and even kids that may possibly even be listening to this podcast and hear you speak about what education should be?
Yeah, I wish they were original to me because I’d love to take credit for it. But the best advice to entrepreneurs, kids and investor Simon Sinek, start with why. One of the best books I’ve ever read just about life in general. It really is more of a business manual. But he starts with most people talk about what they do, how they do it, and then eventually get to why they do it. But the people who really change the world. His example on YouTube, Tick Tock. He’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Apple Computers and the Wright brothers. And the Wright brothers weren’t the only people working on airplanes at the time here. About five, five or six other groups, all of which were better funded, had better talent, even had more prospects as far as what to do once you got this thing off the ground. But the Wright brothers were just mad dog passionate about this concept, and they inspired that passion in their crew, in the people around them, you listen to Dr. Marther Luther King, especially not just his speeches, the people around him, you know, like the Andrew Young’s and the John Lewises, when they would talk about what he was like behind closed doors, he was just driven by this concept of the dignity of every human, you know, even just sitting around having dinner, the dignity of every human Apple computers. Their computers are great, but their big thing is we want a different computing experience. Oh, and by the way, we also make computers so zero.
And truly start find your way. Whatever it is that drives you, find it, define it. And I mean just clueing mad dog passionate about whatever, but that’s going to be what drives you. And if you’re making ten billion dollars you’re going to enjoy that because you’ve earned every 10 billion. If you’re making ten dollars an hour but you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it’s not going to feel like work. So whatever the outcome, as long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’re a success.
And there it is. It’s good stuff. What is your greatest achievement to date?
So on the business side, I did take a risk. Well, I’ve got two that are kind of on par. The first one I was interviewed for a book called Loving Learning, and the guy who is writing the book was a principal at a school out in Oakland. And he took a year off and he said he wanted to find the teachers who are really doing this progressive education stuff. Well, and in the middle of his journey, he developed bone cancer and the parents at his school were so enamoured with his passion for this project, they pooled their money and they hired a Pulitzer Prize winner reporter to work with him to finish the book. So that reporter interviewed me for the book. And so there in Loving Learning, Tom Little Katherine Ellison, Chapter five is progressive education and technology. And it’s actually a peek into my classroom and how project based learning works with computers, works with kids, how to use computers to make a better society and all of that stuff in just the first time, seeing your name in a book for someone who’s a voracious reader, I’m like, that’s pretty damn cool. I’m in a book. And then the second one, Educational Teachers. The big overwhelming organization is called Estee International Society for Technology Educators, Fantastic Group. And every year they hold a big conference where 20000 people from around the world will talk about educating, using technology. They offered a program on A.I. in the classroom. And, you know, how do you teach kids about how Alexa works? How do you trust what Amazon recommends? You know, OK, so that’s all they are. And so I took the course and I did really well. And the end of the course they invited. For course members to go to the conference and do a panel presentation on a in the classroom and I got to be one of those four nights. And so at home on my dresser, this little estie 20, 18 speaker name tag, and I’m like, I presented a Hardisty that feels pretty damn good because so far,
you know, you still got time on the clock, right?
Right. And I mean, the next one, I want to do a TED talk because, you know, everyone does a TED talk eventually. Yeah.
I think you definitely could deliver some insightful, intuitive theories that people are not probably used to hearing about education. So thank you.
I try and then like the ultimate, you know, at the point where I can say, OK, I can stop now the MacArthur Awards for creativity, it’s like, OK, do the TICK-TOCK to put me on their radar, get the MacArthur Award. And I’m like, OK, I can dial it down to at least a nine. Now I don’t have to live at 11 anymore.
All right. I got a bonus question. All right. If you could spend 24 hours on anybody dead or alive, who would it be and why?
OK, so her name isn’t really well known, OK, but she gave me my mantra and seriously before Karpal at 7:00 in the morning when I pulled into the parking lot before I get out of my car, I repeat this to myself every morning. So the mantra is, someday the system will be such that teachers and students will come to school with ecstatic joy. And in the end of the day, students will go, will talk about the things they’ve done and we’ll talk with pride. I want education to be the great tool of democracy. Her name is Ella Flag Young. She was the superintendent of schools for all of Chicago back in 1917. So she had actually won the post and she couldn’t vote for herself because women didn’t have the right to vote yet. But she transformed Chicago schools to be these amazing interactive hands-on enjoyable places where teachers I mean, she had the vision of teachers and students wanting to go to school, school being an enjoyable place to be. So if I could have 24 hours to just pick someone’s brain, I want to hang out with Ella Flag Young. That’s pretty cool.
I mean, her whole life was so like the whole rest of the paragraph she talks about, like there were losing students at the time in fifth grade. And she says by giving them something to do with their hands, we were able to save most of them to be to awaken the spirit of the students. The teachers themselves must be awake. So we’ve tried to free the teachers and she really had just this full brand design of what school should be. Before we even had things like computers and, you know, collaborate, you know, which talks about building something with your hands, she’s literally talking about hammer and nails and wood and paper and pen. And yet that was their proof of what they’ve learned was I built this thing. I wrote this thing. Here is the pride in my work. The only people I can show it to his mom and dad. But I’m still proud. And, you know, I would love to let her see, like, hey, look, here are the tools. A kid can build their own virtual world. A kid can recreate the Jamestown settlement and you can walk around it in 3D to prove that they understand early American settlements.
So, one, to get the deeper understanding of what she was talking about, but then also to show her like, look, we’ve got every tool you ever dreamed of and more. We just want to step into your shoes.
You know, I would think it would be interesting, considering you’re talking about 100 years ago, like technology has leaps and bounds. If she had that much of it back then, what would it be to her? The questions now with the technology at hand?
Yeah, it opens up Pandora’s box. It really does. Yeah. Pandora’s box. It is both the good and the evil, you know.
Well, I definitely appreciate you coming out. I mean,
we’re happy to be here.
Great, great, great, great podcast. I think he definitely draws some insight to where, unfortunately, we wish they were more teachers like you in the system to build more entrepreneurs earlier on coming out, understanding that everything doesn’t have to be so linear. Right. It doesn’t have to be. Did you get 100 on the exam? It’s more so. Did you understand it? And how could you apply it? And I think you demonstrated that today.
Thank you. Thank you. All right.
So the next podcast.
This one’s called Boss Up Q&A. OK, so I’m an open book.
Actually, what have you want?
One thing that you talked about when you say you go back to school, how do you find the places to learn the good stuff?
Got it. Got it. So for me and I talk about this on I think on this podcast, which is a question to answer about how do I find things. So one trick that I’ve learned to use, this is just one of many. It’s a trick, Facebook’s algorithm. So by using I think it’s called Tobel ad finder on chrome extension, what I do is that when you turn that plug in on, it only shows you ads, sponsored ads, one hundred percent. And if you know Facebook, it’s all driven on what you like, what you share, what you’ve purchased. So if I make a purchase for class and I’ve made purchase before, like learned dotcom. Right. And he’s a great educator for entrepreneurs. So once I click on one of his promotional ads, everybody else that’s in that family automatically pops up at my feet.
So then now I’m looking at 100 percent feed of exactly what I want. That’s what you said. You can use Facebook. I was like this. Facebook has two point something billion people. Yeah, it’s kind of I can’t ignore it. Right. And especially if you’re using it as a tool. So that’s one way that I find it. Another way is word of mouth, you know, kind of seeing what’s out there. Another one that I found was Kindle Cash-Flow and his name is Tycoon. And I forgot how I found it. And I ended up finding it, I think was to a podcast. So I think podcast is another really good believe in that. Like, radio radio’s not dead. It’s reinvented itself. Right. So listen to a podcast and I think it was on its podcast that he was talking about it. And then I started following this guy. I never heard of him until that point. And then I start doing my research. Look at I’m like, well, this guy was at the dawn of Kindle. He got invited to kind of do Amazon to kind of start the whole Kindle thing.
So he’s a multimillionaire because he’s understand the principles of Kindle from day one. He understands the algorithm. He understands, just like I figured out, how to trick Facebook’s algorithm. You figure it out. Amazon Kindle as well. That’s fantastic. So once I got into his class, it was just like, you know, I wrote books before. But the books I’m writing now in his vision, his philosophy, I’m writing 52 books versus back then I was writing two books to answer your question for me is essentially hundred percent online. Look at manipulating the environment. Some people may go on to Facebook and they may look at random cats meowing. If I go on Facebook, I’m looking for something tangible,
right, there it is. That’s awesome. So other than the social media, what’s three Web sites you would recommend everyone should check out immediately?
It comes down to the topic, right? I mean, without self promoting stuff I believe in, I think I just said learn .Com. I think anarchy has gotten to the point where his driving factor is giving back to entrepreneurs. And he has a platform that’s massive and everybody and their mother is essentially partnering with him. So he’s becoming kind of like the the Amazon for entrepreneur learning.
OK, so I learned about you are in OK, you just log into it. And if you’re more of a marketing person, you kind of see a strategy and you kind of see he has a small buy in, a free buy and a webinar and just seeing how he’s moving to the Internet and what he’s doing. And then when you get on this platform, you can learn about anything, whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s Twitter, whether it’s Pinterest, whether it’s blogging, every single aspect of online strategy, online marketing business, it’s there.
That’s there. And then if he doesn’t have it, he brings other people in like Tycoon and Wrought-iron and Ties is 100 percent Kindle. Fred Lamb is 100 percent Shopify online store fronts,
He brought him in. So it’s just once you start knowing these names, they’re kind of like the unsung millionaires behind the scenes. It’s like you have the big Jeff Bezos is a billionaire, but it’s this like thousands of millionaires. It’s all strategize and work together to manipulate the environment. And it’s like they’re there. And once you’re in those circles, it is multiplies and multiplies.
I think once you’re in that circle that that is a huge concept. Because one thing I’ve noticed from the education side, you can get the information anywhere but the socialization of who do your friends know, who does your teacher know? Who is your professor? No college that can connect you to. So, yeah. Those circles. Yeah.
The funny thing is always like, you know, if you’re the fourth wheel, the fifth wheel and the other four millionaires, then by default either you can get purged out.
Are you going to upgrade yourself?
And so I mean and recently I’ve got kind of inducted into this group randomly out of nowhere. And it was funny because, again, I found Tai Colon to sneak through. Tai Colon went to one of his mastermind groups and I found Greg Caesar, which is another online legend, right?
And through Greg Caesar, he invited me out to a mastermind group and my first day in a mass of my group. And I said something completely crazy because I was just kind of like, where the hell have you people been this entire time? But I’m in a room with one guy that owns a learning platform that he does like. Online learning. So let’s say you want to do a course, he owns his own course platform. Wow. And I’m like, OK, this guy this other guy owns a YouTube marketing and he’s not like a five dollar a day YouTube. He’s like a ten thousand dollar a day YouTube guy. Right. And then I’m on the other side of this other guy that click funnel. He’s like the announcer for Click Funnels and he’s a major brand and he has all the stuff going on as well, too. And I’m sitting there like, how did I end up in this room? I’m not complaining. I’m in here. It’s about to go down.
So it’s just again, you got to be in a room and then once you’re in the room, you’ve got to be active, too. That’s one thing that I’ve learned, that you can’t sit in a room, just be quiet and absorb. You have to get back to the room as well. Yeah.
What is the tool? Not on the tech side that you find yourself can’t live without it,
we’ll have to go back to no bad paper is just one of those random things. I don’t think I’m as bad as some people like you and my significant other. She is completely engulfed and I give her a notepad every single day to week and it could be a random, you know, bad. She’s in it to the point where she has a digital notepad that transcribes on a fly. But for me is just, you know, growing up, paying my hand and markers from a graffiti standpoint, I’ve always had a notebook.
So just when I go into meetings, I just always need to have something in my hand just to open up and jot down notes. And for me, it’s like, OK, I have it in there that I have to get it from this object and make an action out of it. But if it stays in the book, it’ll never get utilized. So I have to kind of OK, what’s the actual steps now? I’m really big on bullets.
That’s how I do most of the bullets and lists and I’m always making sure I’m checking off at least 75 percent of that list because if I don’t, then I’m like, well, at least four or five lists are going to add up.
And I’m never gonna get anything done.
Right. So the other question that I’ll when I meet new people. So I’ve known you for a while, but I’m going to ask you the question, what book are you reading right now?
I think I read more than one book. I listen to audiobooks. OK, so I’m just writing which one of my listening to right now, above all.
Audible. I think there’s two of them right now that listen to just finished listening to the four hour work week, the big one I’m listening to right now. It’s taking me longer than most because there’s so many action items on Tomac Habits by James Clear,
who I want to check this one out. Yeah,
Tomac hatboxes a pretty solid book. And besides that, I just, you know, finish. You are a badass and believe it or not. So you want to start a podcast that we’re like, you know, last 30 days. Yeah, it was very informative, very informative. I mean, a lot of the tools and tips that was in that book is part of the reason why I had the podcast set up the way I have it right now. And there’s a little details and little nuances that most people, they just don’t put in their podcast because they don’t do the studying. Before starting a podcast,
mentioned four hour workweek. Has it changed the way you work? Is it worthwhile?
I think it’s going to be a timeless book. It’s going to be like rich dad, poor dad, OK? It’s going to be one of those books, 30, 50, 60, 70 years from now. Like think and grow rich.
Napoleonville to where the practicality of that book, if you applied the actions of that book, is almost impossible for it not to work for you like anything else. If you dedicate your time to it and he gives you literally one of the steps and there is OK, you work for somebody right now, you don’t want to quit the job today, so you have to take steps on phasing out from the job and stepping on your own. So first thing you do is you make up a plan to say, hey, I should work from home every Thursday,
Then you work from home every Thursday and then you multiply what you would deliver if you were there. And then you say, well, if I’m doing this much work from home on Thursdays, let me do Thursday and Wednesdays, and then eventually you get to the point, well, let me do one. Coming off is just four main meetings and I’ll work from home on a regular basis. And then while you’re doing that, the other strategy is you’re building your business at the same time.
so now you don’t have anybody breathing over your shoulders. You have the freedom to execute the work on your own schedule. And then you have way more time on your date and you can imagine that you can start something and build on it. And that’s, you know, obviously you want to quit your job until you have all the income.
That’s a hell of a way to transition.
That’s Fanton. So I’ve read his other book before our body. And because of his success with the four hour workweek again circles, he’s been able to interview people all over the world about how can you train to run a marathon in 12 weeks. And you know, some of the stuff I’m sitting there reading, I’m like, that’s got to be just absolutely brutal, you know? Is this Tim fierce go really for real? But then the few that I’m like, damn, it works.
Yeah, yeah, it definitely does. And the thing is, is that it’s not a book that you have to check out the listen to everything in a book.
You could figure out what works for you. And he gives examples and he tells you stories, you know, just like people that want to travel the world. And they say they don’t want to travel to work because they have kids. He tells you how this is how you do it with your kid.
Right? Right. Yeah
. And he explains you like literally almost step by step. Well, you have a kid. And before you leave to go to that country, you may want to find out what the school education systems like. You may want to find out if it’s private school and you could do all this research before you even get on a plane. And then once you get off the plane, you really have things in place. So there’s no interruption in your child’s education.
if you plan for.
So, I mean, definitely his book is I’ll say is in my top ten right now. OK, good to know.
That’s pretty much what I’ve got.
I definitely appreciate it. Man said the first podcast was great in the second one was just as great to me. I mean I definitely enjoyed your question so far.
Cool. All right.
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