Andrew Barry on Disrupting Education, Infinite Distribution & Designing Catharsis - E59

· Founder,Purpose,USA,Podcast Episodes English


"So it's about connecting with the person doing the training or creating the course, it's about connecting what they want with what they need. You know what they need, you know the destination. You know what they need, you've got to identify what they want, and then help them connect the dots. So the want is the intrinsic motivation, the need is that transformation and  the catharsis of that is  if you get to that point, you realize wow my life has actually changed for the better. " - Andrew Barry

Andrew Barry is currently the Program Director for the On Deck Course Creator Fellowship, where On Deck is building the first global community of Superstar Teachers. He is also the founder of Curious Lion, a boutique training agency reimagining the way companies like PagerDuty, Pinterest and KPMG upskill their people.

Prior to that, he was Head of Learning at Lobster Ink, a video-based training provider in hospitality, later acquired by Ecolab. He was also in charge of content for KPMG's Executive Education business before entering the world of startups and entrepreneurship.

Andrew received his Bachelors in Business Science, Finance and Accounting from the University of Cape Town. He is originally from South Africa, and now lives in New York City with his wife and son.

Jeremy Au: [00:00:00] Welcome to Brave Dynamics. This is your host, Jeremy Au. Leadership is harder than it looks. As a proven founder and Harvard MBA, I interview courageous entrepreneurs, executives and investors every week. I also share my frontline experiences, coaching insights and own professional development journey. If you're stepping up as a new leader, founding a startup, or venturing into the great unknown, this is the podcast for you.  Hey Andrew, I'm so excited to share your journey in the podcast today. 

Andrew Barry: [00:00:35] Hey Jeremy, thank you so much. It's great to be here. 

Jeremy Au: [00:00:37] Well, you've had such an interesting career, and I can't wait to dig into your thoughts on the creator economy, and how all these different courses and teachers are all popping around the world, and your role in it. But we're going stop and then go from the beginning. For those who don't know you yet, how do you share your professional journey? 

Andrew Barry: [00:00:56] So I started my career in South Africa, spent the first 25 years of my life there, and joined the company called KPMG. We were doing global consulting and it was always right away. So I'm actually a trained qualified chartered accountant and CPA here in the states. I was in the accounting part for a long time, but very quickly was drawn to... So those big consulting firms training their people, is a huge, huge investment they make. It's a big part of that, especially the apprenticeship part that you do the first three years. And I was always just drawn to the other side of that, to the teaching side of it. I wanted to do that right away as soon as I was going through those programs. I reached out to people there, I figured out how to get involved and I started doing that. 

So I used to fly around South Africa doing those presentations, those workshops, those five day events. And then I got an opportunity to come America. I came to New York 11 years ago with KPMG to develop training that we would then rolling out around the world. And it was just there that I really got into the nuts and bolts of adult learning and the real psychology behind it, a lot of great studies around that. I was sort of self teaching myself a lot of that. So I spent five or six years with KPMG here in the states, and then I joined a company called Lobster Ink, which is, or was, its been acquired now by Ecolab, but it was a video based training provider for the hospitality industry. So friends of mine in South Africa actually had started it, I helped them start a new office here in the states, and became the head of learning. And so, we were doing some really cutting edge stuff with really high quality video production for Marriott, Hilton, a lot of the big hotel brands. And so that was great. So then I started bringing multimedia into the learning design that I was doing for workshops. And so five years ago, I stayed in Lobster Ink for a couple of years and then five years ago I started my own company, Curious Lion. 

For the last five years, we've been helping companies develop training of, I say reimagine the way they train their people, and people can be internal, it can also be customers. So I think there's a lot of great marketing that has an educational focus. So we've been doing that for five years now, we work with the likes of PagerDuty, Pinterest, KPMG, [DMDX] , so it's a whole wide range and we're very content agnostic. Content doesn't matter. There are principles in all of this that helps you develop transformational learning experiences. That's what we've been doing. That's what we've been focusing on. Its been a wild ride, it didn't end there. End of last year, I started realizing that what we've been doing at Curious Lion for companies was useful for this world of online courses, and the creator economy. And I was always a big student of these, I spent thousands of dollars a year on these programs, I love them, I've had transformational experiences myself. And I started seeing stuff that they were doing that was applicable to the companies I was working with and vice versa. And so I started just sharing it a lot of my experience with people on Twitter. 

It was literally October of last year I started doing this quite heavily, and within two months, I started getting a lot of interest from it, and by the end of that year, I was approached by On Deck by Erik Torenberg from On Deck, and he reached out to me and said, "Hey, you've been tweeting a lot about courses, we've been looking to create a course, we had a fellowship," they had been working on that for a while. And we chatted on a Saturday morning for an hour and we were on the same page with how we saw the future of education, and the potential for creators, for people to have a viable career, viable business, as I like to call them Superstar teachers. And so I didn't hesitate. I signed on with them and I've been there for now two months, it feels like two years. And we are launching our first fellowship cohorts on April 4th. 

Jeremy Au: [00:04:43] Amazing. We're going to go so deep into this creator economy and courses. But before we do that, I'd like to talk about, you said something special which was, you fell into teaching and the learning. So how did you fall into it? Was is this something you grew up with? Was it something you were always passionate about? How did you fall into it? 

Andrew Barry: [00:05:05] It's so cool you picked up on that Jeremy, because that to me is one the cornerstone features or attributes that a good teacher needs to have, and that is a passion for teaching. You really have to care about it because teaching is a skill and it takes like any skill, having that intrinsic motivation to learn it, is so, so important. So that alone comes from passion. 

So for me, I just really fell in love with it when you get to stand up in front of a room full of, back there it was like 40, 50, 60 people, and you take them through a five day workshop, and teaching them about this career that they're just embarking on. And instilling in them ideas and mental models that they can use to become better at their careers. And when you see those light bulb moments that people have when they're like, "Oh yes, this is what I've been looking for." And you see that transformation in people, there's nothing better. That, I could do that forever. 

Jeremy Au: [00:06:02] Do you remember what the first class you ever taught? Were you at KPMG or were you... What was it like? 

Andrew Barry: [00:06:09] It would have been audits, the fundamentals of auditing. I remember taking, so the risk based approach is a big part of auditing. I remember I used to enjoy unpacking the concept and trying to find ways to analogize them to something else. And I did this whole thing on Sun Tzu Art of War. Know yourself, know your enemy, and related that to the risk assessment thing. It was so fun and people enjoyed that. So yeah, that was definitely the first memory I have of doing this. 

Jeremy Au: [00:06:36] Were you scared or were you excited? What was it like, your five senses? 

Andrew Barry: [00:06:43] Oh man, like so scared and I still get scared. So that's a good sign, that means that's energy. That nerves and energy to me are the same thing. And then coming up to this podcast, if I don't feel nervous, that nervous energy, my heart is not set on it. So yeah definitely, that's always there but it was a lot worse at the beginning. This is something that you can practice. You can become a better speaker, you can become a better leader, I know it's something that you talk to a lot of guests about. 

Jeremy Au: [00:07:12] Yeah. I think there's something that's true that you mentioned as well, is just like, the one thing that I really enjoy being in the consulting world was, there's a huge expectation for people to help teach their peer and the new people, because I think there's this huge wheel of consultants rotating in and out the system that they have a huge learning and development function where they're stamping all these consultants into these are the widgets that will power our brain, trust here. 

But we also need to leverage everybody to help train each other right? I think that's where I also, to some extent, discovered my love to do peer coaching, not then training to some extent as well. So that's a funny part that you mentioned, like consulting is a forming ground for that. 

Andrew Barry: [00:07:57] You'd love this. I've been working on this idea of a learning flywheel specifically for organizations. But I think it's applicable to any type of learning, and there are basically four main elements in the flywheel. I'll go through this pretty quick, but you've got the learner themselves, you've got their peer because here's the learner, their counterpart, and they learn best from each other. People, we, learn best from each other. And then as you get better you become an expert, and then finally, and so what's interesting about that is how do we identify and amplify experts so others can benefit from their knowledge, and then they become teachers. And when you're teaching, you are learning all the time. So you complete this amazing flywheel where you're learning to teaching with all those stops along the way, it's continuous. And so it brings us to this whole idea of lifelong learning and continuous learning. It doesn't end when college ends, or when your professional degree ends. 

Jeremy Au: [00:08:51] Could you share an example of you progressing along this lifelong learning cycle? 

Andrew Barry: [00:08:57] Yeah. So I think I always try to pinpoint moments when you're out of your comfort zone as those learning moments. I think there's such a big correlation to you being out of your comfort zone and learning something. And for me, that was starting a new business. Being in the corporate world for 10 years, it's very comfortable. People pretty much tell you what you have to do, if you don't get it done, there's not massive consequences, where if you have your own business, it's like that's the end, right? And you have to think about so many different new things that you don't normally have to think about, you're just focused on being good at that thing you're good at. 

Now you have to focus on so much. For me, that was a big curve, and it took me a while and I was a slow starter with my business. The first year or two, it was really, I got lucky with a couple of clients and that helped us keep going, but it was a long process of learning. I think I could have tightened my feedback loops a lot more in those early days. But yeah, you just learn by doing and you keep improving. 

Jeremy Au: [00:09:55] Hmm, that's really interesting. as you think about that flywheel and I think I guess this is where we're starting to have a little bit of a robust conversation. Obviously, everyone is a beginner and obviously they're learning from peers, so that's a no brainer. But I think what you're just saying is a transition between a single person beginner learning from a peer and starting to rise, right? That's the interesting moment where they're like, they know they're starting to learn something, they're starting to get a better grip on it, but they're not an expert. And that's a really interesting stage because I think that's where so many people either drop out courses, because when a lot of people panic and leave in some sense. And a lot of people push through. So I was just kind of curious about jumping on that stage here. 

Andrew Barry: [00:10:37] Yeah. So it's funny I just released a podcast episode, I do a show called How Did You Learn That, where we interview people to talk to unpack how, the process of learning. My last guest was a guy called Danny Miranda , we talked about the depth and it's that, probably you get this enthusiasm up front and that almost always weans and you have to get over that depth. 

And so how do you do that? So two things come to mind sort of related as well is something that you talked about that you do clearly is as a mentor to people, is find a mentor. Someone who knows the path and has seen, has made the mistakes and can show you the way, kind of. The other thing is to have an accountability, and that could be the same person, but often it's someone whose at the same level as you, going through the same thing as you. And so I talk about that mentor being a journey leader, and then you've got an accountability... So there's a journey group and an accountability group. And so having both of those, I think is the thing that gets you over that depth, and once you're over it, it's just then you accelerate in your learning. 

Jeremy Au: [00:11:42] Yeah, that's really interesting. And I think what you're just saying especially, is a differentiation between the journey group and accountability group, because most people kind of lump them together in one giant cluster. So I think this is what most people have the mental model of the group, which is dump, and then everybody into one starting point. So how would you differentiate between that versus the journey group and accountability group? 

Andrew Barry: [00:12:07] So I call what I think you were describing there as the destination group. So you've got those three, there's the destination, and it's the smallest group within that, journey, and a smaller group within that, accountability. Destination group is that college, that's the lecturer. That's the program you're doing and so it's setting like okay, this is the history of philosophy, and it's laying it out for you and this is what you're going to cover over the semester, blah, blah, blah. 

But what that doesn't do is it doesn't account for everyone being on a very different level on that journey. So some people may have some base knowledge in it, some people may have studied something already around that, some starting completely fresh, never heard of it before. And so you have to have smaller groups, and that's where the mentors come in to be able to address the next steps. So destination groups like all the steps, but people only care about the next step. You can't even think about step 12 if you can't go from two to three. That's the journey group. 

And then accountability is like okay, cool, I know what I need to do, now I just need to sit down and do it. It's so much easier to do that with someone who's also in that same boat. So it's like, all right, it's like going to gym, if you promise someone you're going to go to the gym, you're much more likely to go because you made a promise to someone, than if it was just you and you just hit snooze, you don't have that accountability. 

Jeremy Au: [00:13:23] Yeah, definitely true. It's interesting because just like you I've always been thinking about education, education technology as well, and I always joke sometimes like, once you see the Matrix, I guess, you can't stop seeing it. So when you talk about destination group, journey group, accountability group, I'm like yeah, you see it everywhere. You see that in personal training at the gym. The gym is a good example of all those three things, right? The super buff guy at the corner is clearly the expert. The destination group. Then you have a lot of beginners, January 1st new year resolution folks. Then you have the trainers walking around, who serve as your accountability as well, provides all the content. 

But you see that everywhere, right? You see that in the corporate training program obviously, you see that on online courses, you even see that on online YouTube courses, but YouTube creators kind of sharing that. Is there any funny moments where you've been doing something and then you were like, oh I see what they're doing? 

Andrew Barry: [00:14:29] Oh yeah. I saw, these are good questions. I was in, I'll tell you this whole destination, journey and accountability group idea came to me because I was in Write of Passage as a student. For those who don't know, it's a course with David Parell on how to write online basically. It's a five week course. 

So I did it in 2019, didn't really get much out it, but that was my fault because I didn't put enough in. And then last year in July, I applied to be a mentor. So as an alumni, it was my first time at being mentors, and I got accepted into that program, and it was amazing. I got to work with David, whose done some phenomenal stuff in his career. Work close with him and Will Mannon, and really build that from the ground back. And they were very cool about just like okay, you guys are on the frontline doing this, we basically built to learn that program together, there was seven of us. So it was amazing, 

I used to run these weekly sessions and people would join in and we had, David did two sessions a week which were like, for other people, when I first did it, it was super intimidating. It was this guy's prolific, right? Massive following and he's telling you all this stuff which you know is good, is important, but you're just like, I just need to sit down and write. I'm struggling with the blank page issue. It was imposter syndrome, who am I write and share, and publish my stuff online? 

And so  the journey groups, the mentor groups, gave people that opportunity to talk about those things, because you can't do that on the live sessions. You go the 60 minutes, maybe 90 minutes and that's it. You can't deal with everyone's, those concerns. So those groups became, I would host this weekly session and it was just basically a facilitated discussion about these challenges, which was great, because it got people writing. Got them publishing, it got them taking those next steps. And so it was phenomenally successful, and that cohort particularly cohort five was just... David on the last session broke down in tears. It was this cathartic release of emotions. There was insane amount of transformation in people. So I took some time off, that was in August in the summer, I was on a run in the morning. 

I was listening to a podcast with Shane Parish interviewing BJ Fogg, Stanford professor. And he was talking about this concept of destination leaders and journey leaders. Not in the context necessarily of learning and training, I can't remember what the context was, I stopped in my tracks, and I was like, "Oh my God, that's exactly what we were doing. That's the perfect way to describe the difference." 

I went to Google it and he hadn't written anything about it. To this day, I think that was the first time he'd spoken about it and was recorded. So I just started writing about it, this is this idea from BJ Fogg, applied so well to what we were doing in our right of passage. I wrote a whole thing on that. And that's when I really started writing about online courses and really deconstructing how to build them. But that was kind of a wild moment. That was quite crazy. I think I stopped run and just went back home. 

Jeremy Au: [00:17:35] What's interesting of course is, we've been talking about courses. What you described as courses now, you didn't describe in terms of the knowledge part, right? You described it that you could cut the emotional part, right? You used the word catharsis, tears, it's very emotional, and I think we're kind of talking about it, but what's the role? This is a very rhetorical question because I know you've written a lot about it, but what's the role of that catharsis, or emotion, as part of the course? 

Andrew Barry: [00:18:04] Yeah, so it's interesting, it's sort of related, it goes back to motivation as well. People have to be inspired to take action, and that often comes from a deep emotional connection to wanting to do the thing, whatever it is, like a writing course. And so, what they do really well in that program and a lot of other great course trainers do, is design ways to do it, first of all reflect on why they're doing it, and to share that with the course creator. Because what that does is just opens it up and puts it on the table, like really wide. What difference is this going to make in my life to learn this thing? Once you've made that, you kind of made a commitment to, and it is like a deeply emotional thing. I think it's true for pretty much anything, but certainly for the creator economy creating anything. Putting up writing and making youtube videos. 

There are so much of your soul that has to go into that, that you'd really got to deal with some demons to be able to get that stuff out, and to learn how to do it well. Because it's so much just like, it goes back to the destination/journey thing. To even go on the destination, you have to start your journey, and your starting is sort of the hard part. So I think that's why the emotion plays another part. A sort of related part with emotion is, it also captures attention. So attention and emotion are linked in a kind of deep way, especially when you're a course creator, or any kind of creator, you want to capture attention right away. Like any book, if you wrote an article, you read the first sentences, you need to feel the emotion of the writer to want to, okay cool, I'll read the rest of this. I think that it plays into a lot of different ways, but those are two that jump to mind. 

Jeremy Au: [00:19:43] I want to go deep on this, you said something really interesting. You said catharsis is linked to motivation, right? That's really interesting because those are two words that you don't normally hear in the same sentence, I would say. And this might be the first time I ever heard them in the same sentence. So you start on motivation because people are coming in motivated, let's unpack that. And then you end with catharsis. So, why? 

Andrew Barry: [00:20:06] Yeah. And that being the release of that emotion. It's interesting, I think you've sketched that out nicely, that it starts with the motivation piece. And so let's break that down. Motivation is intrinsic and extrinsic. Every one will agree the most powerful one is the intrinsic one. So that's the thing as a course creator, you want to be tapping in on. You see this in corporate training, I'll go back to that for a second. Motivating completion of courses is done extrinsically. 

So there's badges and gamification and stuff to get people to do the thing, to finish the training. But that just doesn't do the trick. You have to connect with the intrinsic piece. So it's about connecting with, if you're now the person doing the training or creating the course, it's about connecting what they want with what they need. You know what they need, you know the destination, that's sort of is implied by the fact that you're doing a course, teaching people this thing. You know what they need, you've got to identify what they want, and then help them connect the dots. 

So the want is the intrinsic motivation, the need is that transformation and I think that the catharsis of that is like if you get to that point, you realize wow my life has actually changed for the better. And that's the catharsis moment. And so it comes to your head in an online course because, that last session of his course and many now are like sharing wins. So it's like a celebration of what people have done and talk about so and so created this project. I did one on speaking, performance speaking, and it was, everyone presented, they did a live speech. And it was amazing. You saw this visual, this real difference between where they were at, at the beginning, and where they were at, at the end. And I think that's where the catharsis comes from. 

Jeremy Au: [00:21:55] Wow, that's deep because I think what you're really saying is, as a trainer, you have role is to connect with what they want, with what they need, right? And  it sounds like a crazy thing, but that's really deep actually.  I also like what you said about extrinsic motivation and courses. I don't think I've ever cried at the end of any training I've been as a management consultant and it was like, "Oh, I love the Excel," and just cry. I don't think so. But I think you're right to say that, in reflecting like when I graduated from undergrad, people were crying, it was a graduation, a commencement, right? I would definitely say that I think Harvard, when I did the MBA, obviously you're sinking a quarter million dollars into the process, so maybe you're crying a little bit around your wallet going in. But at the end of that process, people are just sobbing saying goodbye to two years, and the onset of middle age or whatever it was, but there was a real sadness and I felt that. I was like wow, we had an adventure together, right? So yeah, I definitely can see that. I'd love to get you to go deeper the way you said. 

So as a trainer or as a creator, your job is to create the link between what they want versus what they need, right? And I think that's the pain of every artist, right? Every artist is like always doing the same connection between what the consumer wants versus what the artist feels they need. I think it's the pain of every social entrepreneur and non-profit leader who is connecting what the people want versus what they need. I think it's the pain of every parent between the connection between what every kid wants, versus what a kid needs, right? Tell us more, what's the tip there? Is there a tip there, like what's the struggle there maybe? Less about a tip, because we know the tips, but what's the real struggle there from your perspective? 

Andrew Barry: [00:23:47] Yeah, this is super interesting. So as a teacher, as a parent, as a social entrepreneur, as any of those things you mentioned, you have a duty of stewardship over the people that are coming into that thing to learn from you or into your care or whatever. So you have a duty of stewardship which I think the key component of is you have to build trust right away. And so as the destination leader, you set out a set of steps that people need to follow. And you're saying this is, you're reverse engineering your own experience, your own process of getting to where you are. And now people need to trust that, that process is going to be right for them to get them to where they are, to where they want to be rather, right? 

So this is such an important and delicate thing for someone in all those roles we talked about is, how do you get that trust, because it's a commitment, it's a process, and it won't be obvious at the beginning, and you're going to have that dip that we talked about, you go into not wanting to do it. And so you have to get and constantly remind people that, trust me this process will get you there. You'll have to just trust me because it won't seem obvious until you're there. 

That's a super in-sync thing. I don't actually know if there are a bunch of good tips for this. Just thinking about human psychology and behavior, how do you build trust with people, so I think being authentic, being honest, providing value upfront, a lot of those things can help with that. People can get a taste of okay, this person is who they said they are, and they can probably help me. It all comes down, you have to get them to just take the leap of faith, and that's a bit of a blind leap when you go on these learning journeys. What are your thoughts on that, because I think this is just such and interesting area that's not, it's not being solved? 

Jeremy Au: [00:25:40] When you're saying something is like that's the sauce, that was the trust, right? Can I trust you on a destination? Do I trust you?


I think McKinsey had shared a whole book on this, they call it the Trust Equation, and then they boil it down to credibility and reliability. I actually use that Trust Equation, it's a great, you should check it out. You can definitely tweet about it. And I think they do a good job unpacking that into, off the top of my head, credibility is one aspect, reliability and actually deploying that, and of course the magnitude about what you're trusting them with. Because trusting you that you'll give me my pencil back, is very different from trusting you that you're going to get, secure me a job at this company. Versus trusting you for you, you like in a therapist relationship, trusting that you'll ferry me through whatever the storm is, right? Totally different magnitudes of trust required. 

Andrew Barry: [00:26:35] And then all these cases as well, there's a commitment of time that you're asking your students or the people that are joining to make. So there's always that, and that's the greatest gift anybody could give you is their time. So you've got to really earn that. It's super interesting, I'm definitely going to check that out because I think there's a lot of reflection that people who want to go into education, teaching, but even all the things you mentioned as well, social entrepreneurship is so important to reflect on okay, what are those elements or trust and am I showing those? 

Jeremy Au: [00:27:06] Yeah. And so obviously I think what you and I are kind of rediscovering or reinventing what people have done in person for generations, from the beginning of time. The headman of the village, the priest, the mayor, the police officer, this whole bunch of them. The teacher, so we're recreating that. But what is it about the internet with a capital T, capital I, that makes us different and say, this is worth rediscovering in this context? 

We're talking about principles that are very institutionalized, right? Like every priest will learn the same way, if that makes sense, about what it means to be a coach and a teacher, in the spiritual sense, right? I think obviously the school systems are all institutionalized, and the internet we have this new zero borders, zero marginal cost of distribution, infinite affinities that you cut yourself by. So there's a lot of different ways that the internet today, it feels like we're rediscovering education and courses but for the internet world. 

Andrew Barry: [00:28:13] Yeah. So I think this is such a fascinating space for people because, so a lot of it, I think they're indications of what you just described there is that access to information is no longer the issue, uses of internet is going up pretty much everywhere in the world, there's amazing penetration in third world countries now of internet, especially mobile. So access to information is not the issue anymore. So now it's about curation and about finding the right person to trust... 

In fact, we're actually on the opposite, we have too much information. So now the issue becomes curation, and I believe one of the best ways to learn these days, is to learn from someone who is curating it for you, who is setting up the path right, providing that destination. And so, it's a way to organize that information and organize that path for you. That cannot happen at scale I've been looking up, I came across recently this thing called the Global Teacher Prize, which is this amazing organization that have been doing it since 2016 or something, for five or six years. 

Every year they announce the best teacher in the world, who at least people who have done phenomenal things. And what's interesting is, so the last two, in 2019 was guy called Peter Tabichi from Kenya, and then last year was a guy called Ranjitsinh Disale from India. And both of them are in very rural parts of those two countries. But this Disale has this huge, he uses Skype, so he does a whole bunch of science lessons. They're actually both science teachers. They do a lot of that on videos, so in his case especially, he's been teaching mainly one small part of India, but now it's like anybody in India can learn this science lesson from him, and he's really good at that. 

And so I think this is where it gets interesting is that the scale of that instruction of setting up the destination, the motivation and emotional side of it, because he's excited about this science experience, so the experiments that the kids watching it, are as well. So anybody in the world can have access to that. 

And then what starts to happen, and I think this is where, especially as the world opens back up again, is you have in person places, schools for people to go, who are watching that same stuff when in their own time, who then go to then apply those things. That's where mentors, so that's the whole journey groups, so they're live in person journey groups in your geography. So you can go there and you can be, and have mentors just to guide through implementing some of the stuff you've seen online, practicing it, learning from each other, what are your challenges, how did you approach it. 

So that becomes super interesting where like my kids and your kids could be watching the same teacher and then go and apply it where you are in the world and where I am in the world, with people near them. And that's super, super exciting to me. 

Jeremy Au: [00:31:01] I think that's the crazy part of the internet, because we've gone from this factory model of education where everyone's debating, should we have 20 students per teacher or should we have 30 students per teacher, right? And then the science basically saying, well reducing class size doesn't help because quality of teachers is more important. So that's where the economists have gotten us because we're working off the data from the past 10 years, right? But now the internet is letting us go the other direction which is... 

But what if we had a superstar teacher, not just a good teacher or a slightly worse teacher in the whole system. But what if we had a rockstar teacher who was like really fun, really engaging, just doing one thing with you really well. What if he had a million students, right? And the economists are just kind of like, well we don't know how to measure that because we don't have the data for that. And the students are wild wild west or TikTok and Skype and all these science lessons, I'd probably watch more like the slow motion guys on YouTube. It's like cheap show rises like slow motion stuff. Things breaking, and I'm like wait a moment, I'm learning so much about physics that I never learned as a kid and he's just doing one format which is everything is slow mo. A humming bird, or a lizard, and I'm just like, okay, I enjoy this for three minutes a day. 

Andrew Barry: [00:32:31] There's something about that, its obviously captured your attention, right? And so that was the key. So it's fascinating and you want to just stare at it. And then now you're in and now you're learning, and it's just the power of us now, like you said, distribution is infinite. Anybody can get their knowledge out. So that's super interesting.  There's a whole study done around superstar teachers. What is the implication of that if that starts to happen in a big way? 

Right now there are very few people, South Korea has an amazing system where teachers there can earn millions of dollars a year. There are a few people in the US who have done it through Udemy and Coursera and those sort of platforms. But it's still the top 0.1%. As that starts too, I think that there is a lot more scope for that to have more and more people be able to do that. Make viable businesses, actually sustain themselves, be able to quit their jobs, that is their only job, which is often not the case for teachers, it's super interesting. 

And so there's a whole paper on the economics of that, of superstar teachers and what that might look like. Because it becomes a little bit of a winner takes all scenario, and there's good and bad things with that, which it means that the people that aren't able to teach really well or communicate really well, lose out because now those kids that they were teaching are just going to learn online from the person who's best. But partially offset by the fact that those people could find different jobs being TAs and being mentors and being coaches to help students implement. So I think it's super interesting to just think about how that's all going to play out and we're at the beginning of that wild wild west you talked about. 

Jeremy Au: [00:34:14] Amazing. So let's talk about this, obviously you're out creating the cohort for On Deck, and course creators. What is it? Is it like your job is to spot middle class aspiring course creators who you think could potentially hockey stick into these super star creators? Is that how you're thinking about approach? Or how do you think about that? 

Andrew Barry: [00:34:40] Yeah, I actually love that hockey stick insight, that's It does feel a little bit like that to be honest. When I went into thinking and sort maybe more broadly, but this is still applicable, is to create the world's only global community for course creators and for superstar teachers. Because right now, there's lots of different communities that course creators can go and learn, but they're like tangential to to other things like writing, marketing, certain platforms even. But there's no place for course creators go and talk and be with course creators and go through a guided journey to learn to improve their craft. 

That was the overarching thing. You understand it right, you nailed it there because I'm right now in the middle of candidate interviews, so it's back to back 50 minute interviews with people who are applying. And I'm meeting just like the most amazing people who have the most diverse set of skills and expertise, and I can tell right away if that person is in it for the joy, the passion of teaching and wants to share that with someone, and if they're in it to make a quick buck. So to me, I'm very clear online, I'm happy to kind of start an internet beef with this other sort of side of online courses which is like, how to make 100K a month or that sort of thing, where it's like argh. There's a whole club house section that does this. Everyone knows I think, whose listening, is familiar with this world, knows what I'm talking about. And we are the opposite of that, that's not what we're doing here. And so I can tell right away if someone's like, I'm happy to send them to those people, go and learn from them. 

This is about creating real transformation for people. And you know what, the beauty is actually that you will also make a lot of money doing this. That's the cool thing about it, but it's not the primary thing. So if you focus on transformation and you really relentlessly ensure that your students are getting transformed, or having that opportunity to, then you're going to do well. They're going to tell everyone about that, because who wouldn't? That's the beauty of it.


Jeremy Au: [00:36:45] Yeah. I'm sure you already know how meta it is, which is On Deck which is probably like an engine of creating courses, now creating a course about creating courses, which of course means you're subject matter experts on this. But do you feel like, do you ever laugh, have conference call and be like, "Wow, distilling our own secret sauce," I guess. 

Andrew Barry: [00:37:05] all the time. I think it's hilarious, and it's actually quite a pressure because it's so meta. I'm going to be teaching people the things you should be doing, so I have to be demonstrating what you should be doing. And I've got a whole hour sort of course map of what it's going to look like and there are so many elements that go into making an online course, and I'm generally quite nervous that I'm not going to be able to show all of those things the right way. Sometimes they're going to have to listen to what I say and not what I do, but it's work in progress and we'll have a lot of fun doing that. But yeah, it's ridiculously meta. It's going to be really cool to talk about that with people who are creating courses, and all our fellows. 

Jeremy Au: [00:37:47] And I know obviously we won't get into the exact A or B, or C. Obviously I've been doing On Deck as an On Deck fellow with the ODF7 and part of the inaugural cohort for the podcasting group, ODP1. I'm just kind of curious as, being human here, obviously you're going to be creating inaugural cohorts, so that's exciting. I'm just kind of curious, I know every course creator has that mental roadmap, this is where he is today, here's where he's going to be in the next quarter, in the next three months, and this is what I wish I could build out, or that like... And obviously there's a big destination at the end, whatever it is. I'm just kind of curious if you zoom in as a human course creator, what are parts that you think you're going to be, it's going to be a process or you would need to improve or build on top off, right? 

Andrew Barry: [00:38:42] Yeah. So I think that one of the key things will be to... To ensure a transformation for people who have an online course is incredibly difficult to do in just eight weeks. If I was to, I think eight weeks is quite long for an online course, but it's also still not long enough to ensure that people who have a whole course themselves experience a full transformation. So this is one of the challenges we looked at. I'm convinced that everyone will have, and if they spend the time, will be able to improve the elements of their course, or if they don't have one yet, will have everything in place to eventually launch it. But the transformation is only complete once you've launched it and people have taken it and they've given you feedback, and so you need that. That's a bit of a longer tale. One of the things we're going to do is have a workshop that everyone works on, almost like a capstone, which they all present in the ninth week, the final week to anyone. 

So all On Deck fellows will get to hear about this, will be able to attend these things, and just imagine there's two, three, four day event you can go and sort of go into a bunch of virtual rooms and listen to someone teach their topic. And so that was an aha moment for me when I realized we can actually do this meta course thing, because we can give people that immediate feedback and potentially even a little distribution boost as they get exposure to a lot of people in that ninth week. Then they can go off and apply everything else they've learned to launch their full course and beyond. 

Jeremy Au: [00:40:09] Wow, you just said something really interesting here which is, eight weeks is too short for transformation, but it's too long for an online course. Wow, okay, we're going to attack this one maybe. This is a really good one, because this is like when Goldilocks and the three bears. So let's unpack the first part. Eight weeks is too short for a personal transformation. What does that mean? 

Andrew Barry: [00:40:35] For the online course specifically, for creating an online course because you've got to really see the benefit of it. You've got to release it out into the wild, you've got to have students join. And then that takes a lag, there's a lag, there's a tail to that. So eventually you get the student feedback and then that completes the cycle like okay, did I do a good thing here? Did I build a good course myself? 

So for all my fellows, they're going to only see that in one, two months after the fellowship. That's why I said, it's too short to see that, and that's why we're going to do that learning conference idea, so they can see it right in the ninth week, what that feedback is like, and be able to get a few people to kind take a live session and give them feedback on it. And then too long. This might be controversial, a lot of my colleagues at On Deck might take offense, but my question is because most of our fellowships are eight weeks, six, seven, eight weeks, nine weeks. And it sort of just depends. I think this is very much, this is not like, I don't feel super strongly that it's too long. I think it depends. I look at it as like learning is a marathon not a sprint, and so it's somewhere along that spectrum. 

The writing course I mentioned, right of passage, just speaking on performative speaking, five weeks.  So that's a super intense sprint, and you go like two, three live sessions a week, it's a lot of work, you're doing an assignment each week, so weekends you're doing that basically. But it's great because you just crush it. You just go through it and you get it done, and you've learned a lot. Ali Abdaal's YouTube course is about four weeks, very, very tightly packed. 

Eight weeks gives you a bit more time to explore the community side of it, I think, a bit more, which is as you know is a big part of the On Deck fellowships. It's not too long, it's long, but the way to make it not too long is to make sure that the whole journey is very clear. So you know what you're getting into. In week six and seven, this is what is going to be expected. Week eight, this is what we're doing. So you can start to plan ahead for that like okay cool, I'm running the 800 meters instead of the 100 meters. 

Jeremy Au: [00:42:41] Wow, that's, I love that. That's a whole hour into this the pedagogy I guess of online courses versus the transformation courses. Those are two different planes even, right? One is online and one's in person, let alone hybrid. Another one you talked about is transformation versus tools, I guess, one thing I noticed about On Deck is there's a geographic piece, right? You guys were founded in the states, which makes sense, because lots of talent, lots of supply and knowledge and so on and so forth. 

What's really interesting obviously is someone who is like how do I shuffle between the states and Southeast Asia for example, is that all these online courses obviously are being created in the US because of the strong pedagogy, strong all this other stuff. But the real demand I think, is going to be in the rest of world, outside America, because they don't have Stanford, they don't have all the universities. And there's that interesting dynamic where Erik talks about disrupting all the existing universities, and then I read that thing and I'm like, but the rest of the world doesn't even have universities that are anywhere there. 

So why are we fighting or charging existing incumbents, it's not a binary thing, versus the rest of the world that's hungry, there are so many people in Southeast Asia who have just never even gotten anywhere close to thinking about course creation or podcasting, or founding even. 

Andrew Barry: [00:44:16] Yeah, this is such a fascinating topic for me, and we think a lot about this at On Deck. Recently, we have someone who leads up our international, Erika Batista. She's a phenomenal, dynamic, from the Dominican Republic living in Paris, and so she's very global in her thinking. She flat out said that we're not a US company anymore, we're an international company. And so part of the thinking longterm is to expand regional offices and have some regional heads. So we're looking at Israel right now as the first of those. I know India is obviously a big one on the roadmap. I think Southeast Asia is definitely also. 

The other part of if is I've seen this with the course creator fellowship. I've had so many applicants, there's someone in the Philippines who runs Avion School, so it's a bootcamp school and he's doing incredible stuff down in the Philippines, and he's joined up this fellowship. I've got someone who does a marketing academy that connects people with jobs in marketing in Nairobi, in Kenya, and she is again a phenomenal. So you understand it right, like that hunger for this level of knowledge and community of people that can help you implement it and make real change in what you're doing, is a completely global phenomenon. So that presents a bunch of challenges that we're currently exploring. 

One of them is obviously timezones. So most of the programing is US centric, but we are starting to explore, one of the things that I'm going to be doing in the course creator fellowship is we'll have those mentors that we talked about. I've got mentors somewhere, one is a Spanish guy but he lives in Thailand right now, so he's going to do one in that timezone. We've got someone in Europe, and we're going to have the subcontinent of Asia, and so that's one way. There will always be a live thing that you can attend in your timezone. And then we're also going to do watch parties, so we'll have all the live sessions are recorded, edited into videos and we'll have opportunities for people in their timezone to watch it with others in their timezone and talk about it, discuss it. So you still get that benefit of that live discussion. That's one challenge. 

The other one is global pricing, that's a very difficult one to solve. Not many people can afford a $2,000, $3,000 program. But it does take that much to put on one of these things. These things are very resource intensive. So how do you find ways to include people who can't afford that? The way we're doing it right now is we have an access fund that, it's a donor advice fund that all fellows can contribute to as a way to give back, so to sponsor someone else. And so we as program directors are able to give scholarships to people, 25%, 50, 75, maybe even full scholarships to help that. But that's, it's working but it's limited only by how much people contribute. So it has a limit to it. So I think global pricing is definitely something that I know we've been talking about a lot internally and some people in the company are focusing on what that might look like. 

Jeremy Au: [00:47:16] Yeah, that is so true, and I love you sharing that from a personal basis, because I think that's something that so many course creators are struggling with. Because America kind of pioneer all these online course, but they're all global these days. It's like YC, it used to be a US accelerator on training side, and now have a WhatsApp group which is YC startup school Singapore which is like all these Singaporean people taking the academy course by Y Combinator, right? And I'm just like yeah, Y Combinator is no longer an American company. And I think they originally tried to create regional offshoots, and now they're just like, no, this is going to become a global HQ, a hub, right? So it's so interesting to see so many course creators just basically run into the exact same dynamics as you are. 

Andrew Barry: [00:48:05] Totally. I think that's going to be a longterm trend, definitely. 

Jeremy Au: [00:48:09] Yeah, and I think it's going to be so exciting because it's going to let so many people who couldn't access a normal education system in the states, access education, but this is going to let so many people around the world access knowledge like you said, right? Well we're coming up close on time here. I think my second last question I have here is, when you think about the courses that you've taken and so on and so forth, I'm just kind of curious, are there any courses that you plan to take in the future? 

Andrew Barry: [00:48:38] Yeah, it's a great question. The reason I'm struggling to answer this is because one of the benefits of my job, is a lot of really great course creators have asked me to help, especially in that October to December timeframe. And I got a sneak peek and got to attend many of those. So I did Ali Abdaal's YouTube, Bradly Pauchi's for speaking, August Bradly's notion course, Mary Prudence notion... So it was like for me as a learning nerd, this was like a dream come true, like pay me, just let me do these courses and then I'll give you my thoughts on them. So, there's very few that I haven't done yet. 

One of the ones I'm interested in, there's a guy called Chris Sparks who does, he's a performance coach and he does team performance training is his program, and it's sort of more of an accelerator like 12 people go through that. And it's more about leadership, productivity, or general topics you talk a lot about on this show. That's one I definitely want to, I want to get better at leading a team and being a better, just also leading myself. That's probably the one that comes to mind for me right now. 

Jeremy Au: [00:49:42] Awesome. And I think my last question I have is, one was talking about the future, but let's go back in the past. If you could go back 10 years in time, where were you at the time 10 years ago, and what advice would you give yourself? 

Andrew Barry: [00:49:55] Yeah. So 10 years ago, I had just come to the states, that was 11 years ago basically. I came here and it was a two year thing, a two year rotation basically, so I was supposed to go back, but I sort of treated it as I'm going to have a party. I came to New York, met a bunch of young people and just had fun. And I think what I would say back then is, I would encourage my younger self to be more deliberate about writing down ideas that... I was writing a little bit myself, but writing and publishing ideas that I was thinking about at that time, because I've just seen so much benefit from doing this now in the last year or so by... The biggest thing is attracting other people who are thinking the same thing. Who can help you move these ideas forward and you can help them. 

And so there so much potential for this now like we talked about earlier about the internet, that just putting out your thoughts in a way that, don't worry about what people will think about it. The world is a massive place, and you'll definitely find people that agree with you and that think the same way and can help you sort of, you'll find the other that are working on similar problems as you. So, I would have probably taken that part of it a little more seriously earlier on, because I've just seen it accelerate what I'm doing right now.

Jeremy Au: [00:51:18] Amazing. Well, its been an absolute pleasure just catching up, and I don't know what's the word, like kicking the can. 

Andrew Barry: [00:51:29] Totally man. You're a great host Jeremy. This has been so much fun. 

Jeremy Au: [00:51:33] Awesome. Well, good shooting debris, that's the right phrase, not kicking the can. 

Andrew Barry: [00:51:38] Yeah. 

Jeremy Au: [00:51:39] It's good shooting debris with you. 

Andrew Barry: [00:51:40] Exactly. We could have gone on for another hour. Jeremy Au: [00:51:44] I know, for another hour we could have gone so deep. It was an absolute pleasure Andrew, thank you so much.

Produced by Adriel Yong

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