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Karen Swyszcz 00:00
Hello everyone out there in podcast land. It has been a minute and my sincerest apologies for the extended delay. In the episode as well to my guest, Beau McCoy, who is the founder and CEO of SOLcademy, an educational video platform. So in this episode, I talked to Beau about the one teacher who created a huge impact in his life, and his passion for creating equity and education, and making learning accessible and available. Always. If you enjoyed the episode, I would love it if you could rate and review it on Apple podcasts. Thank you so much, and happy listening. You’re listening to The Bacon Bits ‘n’ Bytes Podcast, and I’m your host Karen Swyszcz. This is the podcast where a bit of business and a byte of technology come together. Every month I interview entrepreneurs, investors, startup founders and people in tech to learn about what drives them and what makes them tick. Hello, and Welcome to another episode of The Bacon Bits ‘n’ Bytes Podcast. And I’m your host, Karen Swyszcz. And today on the show with me I have Beau McCoy. Beau is the CEO and founder of SOLcademy a new short format educational video platform. He is on a mission to improve the quality and availability of learning. He went to Dartmouth College and worked as a software engineer before discovering his true passion for education. He was the first sales leader of Go Guardian, a very successful ed tech startup. He’s evangelizing personalized and adaptive learning to achieve his goal of equity for all scholars. He’s an avid traveler and spent two years backpacking through Africa and Latin America. Welcome to the show Beau, that rhymes (laughs).
Beau McCoy 01:57
Thank you so much, Karen. And thank you, for everyone who’s listening or watching this. It’s really a pleasure to be here.
Karen Swyszcz 02:02
Yeah, I’m really excited to chat with you. Because I feel like at the time we’re recording this episode is very timely, you know, given the fact that it’s end of August, and a lot of people are in that, like, back to school mode. And we know that given you know, some significant time, we’re still in the pandemic with respect to you know, like people having to adapt to learn. So I’m really excited to chat with you about your platform and the mission behind your platform.
Beau McCoy 02:28
Thank you so much. I mean, yeah, education is going through a revolution right now. Whether you like it or not, it’s changing. And so let’s get on board and make that change for the better, right?
Karen Swyszcz 02:37
Yeah, for sure. So, I like to start off with your background. So I’m assuming like growing up, you know, you you loved to learn. And did you have a favorite teacher? And who was this person? And why specifically, Were they your favorite teacher?
Beau McCoy 02:53
Yeah, great question. I really appreciate you asking that. Because everyone who’s been successful has had a teacher or a mentor in their life, who really opened that door to the success. And for me, it was very obvious. I did not like school at all. As a young kid, I had too much energy, I was bouncing off the walls all the time, I didn’t really see the point. And in fourth grade had the most amazing experience with a teacher Her name is Miss Odette Wills. We went on to become friends now. 30 years later. And that was the first time that someone had asked me, How do I feel about myself? What matters to me? What do I want for myself, right? And when you’re a kid, it’s just like, Do this, do this, do this. But no one ever asks you, you know, how do you feel about these things. And she really tapped into that. She also did a great job of connecting what was interesting to me to what we were learning at the time. So this was like the early 90s. And I loved In Living Color. And Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown were huge, and all these things. And she brought those elements to the classroom to get me interested. And then once I was interested, I would learn anything that she asked me to. And my mother and I always think about that year and how transformative it was, even though I was just nine years old. It can really point to things in my life to this day. And I owe this huge debt of gratitude to Miss Odette Wills so if she hears this, I just want to thank you again.
Karen Swyszcz 04:08
That’s amazing. Um, was she also influential in like helping you decide what you want to study at Dartmouth?
Beau McCoy 04:14
Yeah, I mean, she really taught me to do what it was in my heart, right? And that was the thing she said, if you do what you believe in, you’re always going to be successful doesn’t matter what it is. So just follow your heart. And that started at a young age. And maybe that’s led to why I’ve had like such a wide array of experiences and interests in my life. It’s like, well, I feel like doing this. I’m going to charge after it. So absolutely. I mean, I knew from a young age that I love technology. I remember when the NES came out. I was like, actual love affair, right? So I knew I wanted to work in something technology related, but also love foreign cultures. I knew that in you know, learning about other ways of life in different lands was super interesting to me as well. So it definitely put me on the path to that discovery.
Karen Swyszcz 04:56
How did you end up discovering your passion for education because I remember you saying like, as a kid, you didn’t really like school that much.
What Working At An Edtech Startup Taught Him
Beau McCoy 05:04
Yeah, absolutely. I didn’t like in college either. I just want to get out of here and get the degree, I didn’t really see the point because the world was moving so fast, you know, you go to college for four years. In four years technology is like many generations change, right? It’s going from the iPhone 12, back to the iPhone eight, like big difference, right? So I didn’t, I didn’t see it.
It wasn’t until many years later, when I actually went to go work at Go Guardian, that I realized the impact that education has on society, not just individuals, but like society as a whole. And when we were working with, you know, 1000s of school districts all over the United States, even though we were just a bunch of tech nerds making software, we had some impact on on a student’s life, you know, 1000s of miles away, that’s incredible. And that’s a feeling that, hey, maybe this child, their life is gonna be slightly improved, because of something that I personally did. And that is a rewarding emotion that is really hard, almost impossible to get anywhere else, quite honestly, when you really think about how important Miss Wills was, to me, if I could have some semblance of that impact in some someone else’s life. Well, that’s the best feeling you could ever ask for. And also, people who work in education tend to do it because they want to be there. And so they just tend to be a little kinder, a little happier, a little nicer to you, when you’re talking to them on the phone, trying to sell them something. And, you know, I like that. I think work is really important. But it’s really important that you get something out of your life that you appreciate your life, you know, you shouldn’t just go in and dread the day, every single day, because you’ve got to pay the bills. That’s not why we’re human beings with, you know, an intelligent mind. No, we want to actually enjoy some of what we do, and teachers and school administrators, and they tend to really put their heart into their work. And I always appreciate that.
Karen Swyszcz 06:52
I agree with you, 100%. And being an educator, for I was an educator for a few years, I really agree with that. It just gives you like those warm, fuzzy feelings, knowing that you’re making an impact and like sharing your knowledge and experience and that the students find it really valuable and that you’re helping them like change their life. And so I’m curious to know, like with your experience at the edtech startup, did it that kind of like light the entrepreneurial bug in you? Or did you feel even growing up you had that entrepreneurial spark as well?
Beau McCoy 07:24
A little bit of both. I mean, I when I was at Dartmouth college, I spent most of my time buying and selling DJ equipment on eBay. eBay had just started. This is part of the reason why I had trouble studying was like, I was making money selling DJ mixers, you know, on eBay, which was brand new in the late 90s. And I was like, why am I going to school? If I could just do that? Right. So anyway, what was repeat the question for me?
Karen Swyszcz 07:49
Oh, yeah, but um, as to if you found that working at Go Guardian, kind of like a helped stoke that entrepreneurial fire in you?
Beau McCoy 07:57
Yeah, absolutely. I always knew that I wanted to start my own business. But I wasn’t in a rush to do it. Because I had seen examples of people who had been number one, start businesses, and then it doesn’t work out or number two, start a business, it went really well. And they kind of like, are searching for meaning for the rest of their life. So I wasn’t in a super rush to start my own business. I always knew that I wanted to, and that’s why I joined GoGuardian. When I did I think we were eight employees when I started there. We were working from my boss’s house like literally is where he resided in the beginning. And but I one thing I learned about technology is things that are successful, that are small, they get bigger, they don’t, they don’t get smaller and go away. And we were really the first Google Chrome partner in education. Google really just started investing in education in 2012 2013. This was 2014 when we were getting started. And, you know, I knew that Chrome was going to get bigger. Now fast forward a few years later, it’s 80% of the market, right? 80% of devices are Chrome devices. Back then it was like two or 3%, I had no idea would get that big. But absolutely, it was a huge part in it, I saw what it took to be successful there. And then after that company became very successful. They’re now valued over a billion dollars. They’re a unicorn, I definitely realized it was time for me to take what I had learned in that experience and put it into my own venture. And that’s part of the reason why SOLcademy is here today.
Karen Swyszcz 09:16
Mm hmm. And, as mentioned, in your bio, you did a couple of like extensive traveling in Africa and Latin America. And during your travels, were you also kind of exploring like, how the education systems worked over there?
Beau McCoy 09:31
Absolutely. You know, I would I like to, I always like to know how businesses run and how people think so when I was in different cities, in Latin America and Africa, I’m always trying to pick the pick the minds of the people that I’m running into and the entrepreneurs there. And one thing that I realized is that, you know, the world is a lot smaller than we realize. People are very, very similar, almost identical in every country on Earth. Yeah, they have some quirks and some different tastes that are different. But generally speaking, there’s so much similarity between Americans and people everywhere. I went to, over 30 countries everywhere else, what’s different is the access to education, right? The access to education and funding, you know, the going to business school and law school and med school and all these things, something we really take for granted here in North America like, Yeah, I’ll just go to, you know, Harvard Business School or, or whatever. But if you’re, you know, continents away, they don’t have access to the same kind of, of education. As you know, we have such prestigious American universities. And that’s, you see the difference play out in the entrepreneurial journey, right. It’s a lot harder to get business done in other markets. Because people’s you know that they aren’t they don’t have that business degree from Wharton or something like that. Right? They just haven’t been through that. That’s when I realized that, you know, the world needs to be on a more flat playing field when it comes to education. You know, you shouldn’t have to travel 1000s of miles to learn something when you could pull out and watch that same teacher do a tick tock dance on your phone immediately. Why can I watch them do a Tick Tock dance, but not learn from them? That doesn’t make any sense to me?
Karen Swyszcz 10:57
Mm hmm. Yeah. It’s funny to say like a funny image of a teacher like teaching something why they’re doing a Tik Tok dance. Alright, so of course, I want to discuss about your company SOLcademy. And then also, if you don’t mind sharing to what the S-O-L stands for?
Beau McCoy 11:15
Yeah, absolutely. So the Sol stands for Simple Online Learning. That was the concept. When I’ve spoken with probably about 600 or 700 teachers in the last few years. So the number one thing they told me about technology is it’s too complicated, I can’t figure it out. I need something that’s really easy to use. So while other companies are focused on, you know, the latest widget and features and all that kind of stuff, we focus on the experience, because we want everyone from you know, someone fresh out of school, to the teacher who’s been in the classroom for 35 years, we want them to be able to use this online learning platform. And of course, sol means sun in Spanish. I spent some time in Latin America, and what gives life to every organism on the planet? The sun, right? It creates the energy that grows the plants, and then you know, the circle of life starts from there. And that’s how I really view education, right? Education is that energy that that makes your chlorophyll work and create power for you to grow, you need an education for that, and the same waves. And that’s what I’m trying to bring to the world. You know, education is the light, and I’m just trying to help it shine on more individuals.
Karen Swyszcz 12:19
I really like that analogy, by the way. So when when you first started Sol Academy, I’m sure there’s like everyone experiences when they first start their own company or their own business. What obstacles did you encounter if you don’t mind sharing? And how did you overcome them? Or if you’re still currently going through some of them?
Beau McCoy 12:36
Yeah, we definitely are. So you know, fast forward, or sorry, go back to the end of 2019. I was working with some school districts in Los Angeles. And this one in particular is in Compton, California. And there was a science high school teacher and he was an Asian American teacher. And I was in his classroom observing what was going on. He was talking, you know, about, I think it was like Earth science. So he’s talking about minerals or something like that. And he was talking to us a classroom of 30 students, all of whom were either African American, or Latinx American, and all 30 of them were on their cell phones while the teacher was talking. And I just thought, wow, we’re really at this intersection of cultural difference. Like the younger generation is doing one thing, and the older generation is doing something else. The teachers really need to adapt their behavior because the students aren’t going to spend less time on their devices, playing games and watching videos, we have to help teachers adapt to this new model. And that’s when the idea for Solcademy came about, I said, let’s create a platform for teachers to make short format videos, so that the students who are watching you know, TikTok and YouTube and all these other things could actually click a button and watch something educational. Great idea, great concept. However, how many teachers in North America have been trained to create video instruction? Like probably very close to 0%? So that’s our biggest hurdle.
I think a lot of teachers realize that this is a great way to meet students where they are and connect with them. But they’ve never been trained. They’re deathly afraid of the record button in iMovie. I don’t think so. Right? They don’t think they have the capability. So that’s our biggest struggle right now. If you go to teaching school and even professional development, they’re not talking about hey, let’s make sure short format videos like here’s how to use Tik Tok in your teaching. That’s not part of the curriculum yet. It will be but it’s not there yet. So that’s our biggest hurdle right now. It’s, you know, teachers see the value in connecting with their students this way, but they’re definitely afraid of making videos and I get it. It’s very scary to see yourself or hear yourself on film, but it’s a necessary evil and it’s just you know, that’s our biggest challenge is getting people over that hurdle, bringing them to the other side of the bridge where you know what, the first time you do something, it’s very scary. The second time it’s slightly less but if you do it enough, oh my god, sometimes that fear will just go away. And on the other side is engagement like that’s the beautiful thing. Never forget this moment I had a teacher in Virginia tell me, you know, I reached 25% of my students who were completely disengaged whenever I would speak to them, because that’s just not their communication style. When soon as I started making videos, this 25% of my students was engaged. They cared what was going on. They were asking questions, they were doing their homework, and it was like completely new person in that seat, right, same physical person, but mentally they were, they were different. That’s what’s on the other side. So that that’s our obstacle right now.
Karen Swyszcz 15:30
Yeah, I can definitely relate to feeling comfortable on video. Even though this episode we’re recording is on video. When I first started my podcast for the first couple years, I was very resistant. I’m like, oh, audio only it’s just easier that way. But then realizing that I by doing video, I’m reaching, you know, more people and and different kinds of people who prefer to engage with video content. Yeah. So I’m hoping after you know, a few more episodes, it’ll help me get out of my comfort zone.
Beau McCoy 16:00
Absolutely. And the oh, sorry, go ahead. Yep. I was just gonna say, you know, when you watch a video, there’s like human connection. You can go to your favorite YouTube channel, and just click mute and watch the person. And you will get a very similar amount of enjoyment out of that video as if you were listening to what they were actually saying. You know, it brings a completely different connection. And for this younger generation, while this sounds weird, a lot of them prefer to connect through video, right? They prefer to connect through a device interface. If you’ve ever sat or seen a group of high school students sit at a lunch table. Most of the time, they’re not talking to each other anymore. They’re texting each other and sending each other snaps, even though they’re sitting physically at the same table. That sounds very weird to us, to our generation, but to this generation, that’s normal. So we’ve just got to adapt to what they’re doing.
Karen Swyszcz 16:50
Yeah, for sure. And with respect to you, like I know, you mentioned, like a lot of students are very used to, you know, being on their phones and online and sharing videos and stuff with respect to like the students who have trouble focusing and staying engaged with online learning, and what advice would you have for them? And the parents and teachers?
Beau McCoy 17:12
Yeah, I think the number one challenge that I’ve heard is it’s too much time, right? They love doing online learning, but it’s just too long. How do you get a three My nephew is for just starting pre K, how do you get him to sit still for 45 minute class? Good luck. But could you get him to sit still for two to three minutes, and then allow him to go do something else? See, I just think it’s the way that we approach time that needs to be adjusted to how these students prefer to engage. We think linearly or when I say we, I mean the older generations, the millennials and Gen X’s and and before that, we think, okay, you’re gonna do a 45 minute class and you get a 30 minute recess.
The younger generation is so used to YouTube and things being on demand, they think I’m going to do this for two minutes, I’m going to play fortnight then it’s Roblox, and it’s Netflix. And it’s right, they do things in two to three minute chunks. So we just need to adapt what we’re doing to those intervals and make them a lot shorter. They’re still going to get the same amount of value. They’ll still do the same amount of learning. It’s just a lot more mixed up. it’s more of a conglomerate, then, you know, just a solid, right, that’s, that’s what they prefer. So that’s what I would say, if you’re not seeing the results that you want, change your approach, adapt your approach to the rest of the world, right? Because Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, they get this, they make things really, really short on purpose. So just look at what the rest of society is doing, and help that will help you adapt what you’re doing in education.
Karen Swyszcz 18:37
Mm hmm. And given the fact that, you know, social media is nothing new. It’s been around for quite some time and cell phones and smartphones. They’ve been around for quite some time. Why do you think the educational industry or educational institutes have been relatively slow to adapt to this? Or you know the fact that a pandemic like kind of help accelerate this process?
Beau McCoy 19:00
Well, you know, it goes back to the first question, you asked me about my favorite teacher, Miss Wills. She never used social media. She never used the computer. She was a great teacher. So why should she need to use social media if she was such a great teacher? Now, that’s part of the argument. I get it. Teaching has been that way forever. However, we really need to incorporate the rest of what’s happening in society and technology into the way that we’re doing training and development for our educators. Because the behavior of the youth of this younger generation is very, very different than the way teachers are being taught on how to instruct. You know, we did not grow up with YouTube. This younger generation did. So we’ve seen what it’s like to not have things in short format. They haven’t. They know nothing else. So it’s just a matter of getting these new concepts of social strategy into what we’re training teachers to do, I think to meet the students where they are.
Karen Swyszcz 19:57
And would you say are there any other ongoing challenges that the EdTech industry is facing?
Beau McCoy 20:03
Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s too much technology in the classroom, quite honestly. You know, the average teacher has 45 different applications that he or she, or they are supposed to use in the classroom. And so how many of those can you actually use effectively, you know, maybe one or two. And so you what you get is a very fragmented system that a student’s supposed to follow. Okay? Period One, my English teacher uses this. Period 2 my science teacher uses that Period 3 of my, my chemistry teacher uses Google Classroom. It’s all over the place. And so the students are spending more time having to learn technologies than they are actually learning. And the same goes for the teachers. We really need to simplify things and come back to best practices. What matters and why is Miss Wills, my favorite teacher that I say, because she drilled math into my head, no, because she took the time to connect with me as a human being. And that relationship building is going to fuel the fire that’s going to make each student the best student that they can be, and understanding who they are. And what drives them, I think is really the magic of being an educator. So we’ve got to trim all the distractions and allow teachers to have the time to really do what matters, which is, you know, invest in each of the students as much as they can.
Karen Swyszcz 21:21
I’m just thinking back to one of my professors in university and how just animated and excited he was with physics. It was like an 8 AM class. So the majority of us were still like either half asleep or hungover. But yeah, like his emotions, and the expressions on his face, like actually made me feel excited about physics. So. So let’s talk about the content on Solcademy. What would you say is personally like your favorite type of content on there?
Beau McCoy 21:51
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’re really trying to be the pioneers of what we call culturally responsive content. What does that mean? It means I spoke to a teacher in the Bay Area, and she has a class of 30 students, and she told me, Bo, I have 27 different languages natively spoken in this class of 30. I can’t just go up there and give an example about something because half of them won’t understand it. I need to bring more voices into my classroom, right? I need to bring people from different walks of life who are all talking about the same subject into my classroom so that it’s relevant to every single student that matches their individual tastes. And so when you go to Solcademy. I think that’s the first thing that you’re going to find. Number one, the people we have a very diverse set of creators is that is not an accident. This is by design. We are going after people who are typically underrepresented in the teaching community. For example, only 2% of teachers are African American males, while they make up 7% of society, right. So there’s a big gap there. So we try to bring these voices to light where a lot of students might not interact with a teacher of this type. So we want to have that cultural responsive piece there. Number two, we asked teachers to go back to the moment when they discovered that they want to be a teacher and teach from there, a lot of them have had their dreams kind of trampled by the weight of standards and testing and all these other things that they have to teach to, but may or may not be aligned with why they really got into teaching. Are you super passionate about you know, the Native American diaspora here in the United States? Teach about that? Are you super passionate about string theory, even though it’s not proven, but you know, in physics, you really believe that. Teach about that. There’s an audience for all these areas of academia that may or may not conform with the standards in your state or province, right? And so we open it up for the teacher to be truly creative, truly expressive, and bring all their genius online for the whole world to see. So that’s how we’re different you know, we’re not trying to put you in a box and say, Hey, teach to the standard Baba Baba, boom, no, we say you’re perfect the way you are. Now just bring it to the world.
Karen Swyszcz 24:04
I honestly wish something like this existed when I was growing up. But then again, you know, like, I remember like, the early days of internet. So there wouldn’t be much capability. But yeah, I was just looking at a couple of the courses and they just sounded so fascinating how fascinating they would be to teens, especially one of, you know, networking to find your dream job. And I remember as a kid, even when I was in university, I never thought about networking. I always thought, oh, it’s something I’ll do when I get a job when I’m older or like Oh, networking for like people in business, and then only realizing now that like if I started networking when I was much younger, you know, maybe I don’t know I would have a bigger network or there would have been more opportunities my way. So I think it’s truly amazing that you’re providing like not just the traditional subjects that people are but like a wide array really. It’s a lot of like, I guess your like life skills and personal development, career development, like the stuff that I think is really important to focus on because I felt like growing up to you I’m also in school, I mean, not to, you know, put down the education system, but like just realizing, Oh, if somebody had taught me more about, like, personal finances when I was like, growing up, maybe I would like learn, learn more, you know? And then the kind of like, started investing sooner than later.
Beau McCoy 25:17
Yeah, absolutely. It’s amazing that once people are bought into a concept, they will do pretty much whatever it is that you want them to do, right? So it’s like, okay, we really need them to learn math, history, social studies, all these things. Sure. The way that you get them to do that is by giving them the personal finance, and then networking and all the other stuff that they’re that they’re interested in. So you get them hooked first, and then they’ll be happy to, and I’m not just making this up. This is what I’ve been told by literally hundreds, maybe 1000s of high school students, it’s like, appreciate me for who I am, connect with me as an individual, and then allow me some agency to go on my own journey. Right. And that involves a teacher meeting the students where they are with the material that they want to learn about, you know, I had a student I’ll never forget, she told me, you know, I had no interest in math. But then my, my teacher started connecting me with me about something that was really interested in. I just did the math because I was supposed to, right? Once you’ve got the will they know how to study, they can figure it out. But what we need to put is, is the desire, right? And that’s what we’re trying to help plant.
Karen Swyszcz 26:17
Yeah, definitely. And if you could, like peer into your crystal ball, what would a learner’s day look like? 10 years from now?
Beau McCoy 26:26
Yeah, we think about this all the time. And we call it a tailored learning journey, right? 10 years from now, I want to know at what time are you signing online to do your lessons? How did you sleep last night? Did you eat breakfast? Based on those kinds of factors, we’re going to say, hey, we’re going to do a lot of work today, or we’re going to do a little bit of work today. This is how professional athletes train. Right? It’s called feedback based probe training, right? That’s what we want to do. Some days, you know, human beings are, you know, peaks and troughs, right? Some days, we feel like tons of energy, some days, all you want to do is crawl back underneath those sheets. Both of those are okay, we just got to make sure that your learning journey is adapting to your needs at that time. And it’s going to adapt based on how you do. So if I give you a math lesson, and it goes really great, maybe I’ll give you another last math lesson. But if I give you a math lesson, it doesn’t go great, I’m gonna say maybe you should go drink some grape juice, right? It’s going to be super integrated into the feedback that it’s receiving from the learner at that time. And we’ll also be pulling from many, many different sources. I’m talking with companies who are doing AR and VR and neural language processing. You know, all kinds of futuristic technologies, which are great, but what makes them great is they’re being used at the right time. And that’s really what we want to help bring to education larger is, you know, understanding the students needs delivering content, and also delivering it through the right mechanism for them in that moment.
Karen Swyszcz 27:52
It sounds like it’s like you’re looking to create, like a more holistic experience when it comes to education.
Beau McCoy 27:58
Correct. Because we are human beings, not students, and you really need to address the needs of the human being of which Solcademy is a part in your education is a part, but we’ve got to meet all the needs, you know, physical, mental, emotional, everything of each human being child learner, so that they can be their best student.
Karen Swyszcz 28:17
Yeah, it’s just so true. How like, you know, if you’re not focusing on something, there could be so many other underlying factors or external factors, like, as you mentioned, like, oh, did you get enough sleep? Or maybe, you know, there’s a lot of like, stress going on, like with your family, or, you know, just your like, personal stuff, like relationships, it all ties into, like, your ability to focus and concentrate.
Beau McCoy 28:41
Karen Swyszcz 28:42
Awesome. All right. So let’s talk with respect to like youth, how do you prepare today’s youth for jobs in the future, which do not exist today. And I’m just actually thinking about my current role in in product management. And I remember when I was in university, like that thing didn’t exist, or it didn’t exist formally. And like, I feel maybe only in the past, like 5-10 years now there’s like courses where people are starting to understand the value. So yeah, it’s interesting, like, how do you prepare for something that like, doesn’t even exist yet?
Beau McCoy 29:14
Yeah, it’s really hard. I mean, the number one job that the graduating class in 2021 wants is to be a social media influencer. Now, if you went back to 2011, there were very few social media influencers, so it wasn’t even a thing. But now literally, every student wants that. So if we look at today’s eight year old and say, Okay, we’re gonna prepare you for these new jobs, which probably involve some sort of AI or you know, green energy, AR, VR, that sort of thing. But they don’t exist today, because the technology is that how do we prepare the student for that? Well, you can’t prepare them vocationally. But what you can give them is confidence. You know, the ability to do research, the ability to network. You know, the ability to figure things out on their own because the world is going to change at such a faster rate every year from now the here on out right things will never be static again, that it’s the principles that people need to have, You know, Miss wills taught me to believe in myself. To be curious. To go find the answers to ask for help when I need it, right. All those kinds of skills are what going to help you successfully navigate any career or any field that you so choose to enter. And we I really hope that we move away from the standardization and the testing, basically trying to fill heads with information, and really try to fill hearts with belief and skills and abilities. Right, that’s what we’ve got to shift towards is like, I don’t know what the future is going to look like. But I know that I’m going to give you all the tools that you need, so that you can figure it out when I’m not there.
Karen Swyszcz 30:44
Mm hmm. Yeah, I agree like 100%. And also continue on, I’m like talking about the youth of today, what advice would you give to them if they were looking to join a startup or be even more ambitious and start their own startup?
Beau McCoy 31:00
Yeah, absolutely. You know, it’s way more startups fail than succeed, right? It’s kind of like the movement, it’s like, it used to be everyone wanted to be an athlete, or a, an actor or actress. Now, they all want to be startups, right? It’s really, really hard and 99 out of 100, companies will fail, but you’ll only hear it read about the one who succeeds. And you don’t have to do everything. Now, I think this younger generation has a real sense of immediacy. And I get when you look at the climate, like I understand why, but you know, look at a 10 year slice of time, or even 15 year slice of time, or 20 years and make the best decision for that long term perspective. There are so many companies out there with great ideas and great people behind them, but they just fail because they don’t have the funding or the time is just not right for the product or something. There’s so many factors outside of your control, there’s a lot of value to taking the slow path, right? The hard work, the challenges, the failures, there’s a lot of value to that. And if you want to be truly successful, like in life, not just right now in your first startup, then just start put putting goals in place that are for a longer term perspective. And when you get to be a 40 year old man like me, I think you’ll be a lot happier.
Karen Swyszcz 32:21
Yeah, that’s really great advice. All right. What book would you say has greatly influenced your life or way of thinking?
Beau McCoy 32:29
Yeah, absolutely. So when I was about 22, or 23, I was into software. And there’s a book by Andrew Hunt called the Pragmatic Programmer. And he has a very simple kind of thesis in this. It’s like, a complex system that works is invariably found to have derived from a simple system that works. What does that mean? Whatever challenge you’re faced with in life can be broken down into smaller challenges. And just keep breaking them down until you find one that you can actually solve right now. Get that success, get that win under your belt, and then move on to something else. It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed. In today’s world, there’s so much opportunity and so many things going on. And you can struggle if you try to do you know, I want to be an editor and make content and I’m working my job in this is like so much going on, which is great. And we have so much opportunity, but you can actually only accomplish one task at a time. And I learned in that book, the Pragmatic Programmer Andrew Hunt, to just do one thing at a time, and you will be very happy with where you are in the long run if you take that approach.
Karen Swyszcz 33:38
Yeah, that’s just simple advice. And it’s and it’s so true. Like every problem is no matter what size I can be broken down, or it’s like that saying, um, how do you eat an elephant like one bite at a time?
Beau McCoy 33:50
Karen Swyszcz 33:52
Alright, being a founder yourself, who is a startup founder you admire and why?
Beau McCoy 33:57
Oh, I really admire Jeff Patterson, who started a company called Gaggle in education. One thing I really admire about him is he really and he solidified this long term perspective. You know, he shared with me that it took many, many years to get gaggle off the ground, and he just like, kind of believed and hung in there. And then eventually the tide changed, and it took off. And I think that’s the right perspective to have. You know, timing is everything in life. Networking is also everything in life. But timing is everything in life, too. Sometimes it’s just too early. Sometimes it’s too late. It’s hard to know when the world is ready for this brilliant idea that you have. But if you stick with it, eventually your time will come and you’ll be you know, in the sun. So that’s something that I really admire is that long term perspective. I mean, Solcademy is here today. We’re going to be here indefinitely. This is my thing. When will we become bigger than YouTube? I don’t know. I just know that we will.
Karen Swyszcz 34:53
Oh, that’s an awesome and amazing goal to have. My final question for you is looking back on your journey. Thus far, was there anything that surprised you along the way?
Beau McCoy 35:04
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’m surprised pretty much every single day, right? People never, never cease to surprise you. I mean, there were people who worked with me who I was sure it was going to be an amazing, you know, relationship and they were going to do a fantastic job. And then it just flamed out. There were other people who I had no expectations of, and like, hey, if I get anything out of them, I will be great. And now they’re, you know, integral parts to Solcademy. You just never really know what to expect. And like, I think trying to embrace that change is the biggest challenge that I personally face, right? It’s like, don’t put expectations, don’t place your values on other people or other things. Just appreciate them for what they are, and you know, your feet a lot happier that they’re in. And so I’m continued to be surprised. I mean, I never know what opportunities around the next quarter. I’m so happy to be on the on the bacon podcast. You know, this is a wonderful opportunity. I had no idea this was gonna happen a month ago. Right? So you know, just try to be grateful and try to be appreciative of everything that happens.
Karen Swyszcz 36:05
Yeah, actually, it’s funny. I’m like, trying to think like, how we connected I think you ended up connect, or sorry, you ended up commenting on like, maybe one of my LinkedIn posts, but I’m not even like, sure. Like how how you knew? Or if we have, you know, like the second or third degree connection. So it’s really fascinating how people end up like finding each other like connecting. And yeah, just to everybody out there, you don’t like continue to put yourself out there to keep on going. Yeah, so if people wanted to learn more about Solcademy and you know, if they’re interested in like, uploading their content and sharing their content, where can they find you?
Beau McCoy 36:42
Yeah, just go to our website, Solcademy.com, it’s S-O-L-C-A-D-E-M-Y.com. Click Join the movement up the top. Fill out some basic information, and I’ll see it and we’ll approve you and when you can start uploading content and sharing it on your favorite social platform. You might think that you’re not good enough to make videos, you might think you’re weird or don’t sound good, or whatever it is, that’s, that’s preventing you from doing it. But I will encourage you with this. You were once a high school student. And wouldn’t you love to see somebody who was just like you on the screen who was you know, talking about something important? Yes, you would. So now is your opportunity to be that teacher right now is your opportunity to be the teacher that you might have wished you had or maybe you were lucky enough to have to not just the students who are in your class but students all over the world who are just like you and want to hear from you. So you can go to Solcademy.com You can also find us on Twitter or Facebook at Solcademy. Send us a message we’re always on. We love love engaging with you. So if you need a little encouragement or have any questions at all please drop us a note also firstname.lastname@example.org that’s the email address.
Karen Swyszcz 37:51
Amazing. Thank you so much for your passion and energy. I just love like talking to you about education. You can really like see it in your face and like hear it in your voice that you’re on a mission to provide like education for everyone.
Beau McCoy 38:04
Thank you so much.
Karen Swyszcz 38:04 Yes, no problem. Thank you so much everyone for tuning in. And stay tuned for more episodes. Ciao for now.