The passion for learning starts at a young age. You are rewarded and cheered on for crawling, walking and learning new words. As we get older, we are critiqued, told what we could improve upon, and do better at. The positive feedback waivers along with our interests. How do we keep the youth of today motivated to learn? 

Author and Entrepreneur, Seth Godin, shares educational experiences along with his ongoing project of helping individuals transform into their best possible selves. He has written 19 best sellers, was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame and continues to motivate and inspire people all over the world.

  • 0:57 – Why interacting is the secret to learning
  • 3:40 – Extending emotional labor to learn hard tasks
  • 5:19 – What you can learn in public school, and what you must learn elsewhere
  • 6:00– The importance of socialization
  • 6:13 – Creating a dynamic that makes people WANT to learn
  • 8:07 – How positive feedback drives learning
  • 8:58 – The need for teaching leadership
  • 10:25 – You’re Ready, Now Is The Time: Benefits of the Alt MBA program
  • 12:10 – Learning from relationships




Full Episode Transcription:

Derek: (01:52)
So the way I recognize you, or I appreciate about you is you identify yourself as a teacher and that you work on projects. What’s the next project in your mind that you kind of see coming down the line? I mean, you have so many between the podcast fellowship, between Alt MBA, between everything, the you’ve written, everything that you’ve worked on. I mean, what’s the future for you? 

Seth: (02:14)
I really don’t feel like I’m working on a lot of projects right now. I feel like I’m working on one project right now. When I was a book packager, we did a book a month. And in order to do a book a month, we had to have four books a month in the works. That’s a lot. Right? And cause the information please, Business Almanac doesn’t have a lot in common with Buzzword Bingo. Right. Now the mission is really coherent, which is the technology has changed such that, it doesn’t make sense to pursue education anymore. Education is compliance-based and accreditation based. It’s a piece of paper that proves you put up with a lot of nonsense and paid a lot of money that is clearly going away. And the alternative is what would happen if you learned something. But learning doesn’t come from being lectured at learning comes from interacting. So that’s my project and there are lots of flavors of that project, but that’s my project.

Derek: (03:13)
Well that’s fundamentally why we’re here then because that’s exactly if you listen to the podcast, which you will once you go live. It’s exactly the message that we’re about and Scrimmage as far as using technology to democratize educational access, right? And put the ownership without doing the hands of the person should have pursue whatever they like, whatever they need in order to fulfill their purpose or what they perceive to be their purpose at that time, that’s what we’re all about. The same model was we saw the same concerns you had around education and the system. And said how do we create and curate people that share that. 

Seth: (03:49)
Yeah. No, this is definitely an inflection point and I felt them before and they feel just like this. 

Todd: (03:59)
I think going a little deeper here with, with technology being as it is, I had this discussion with my wife and my mother a couple of nights ago prepping for the show. I said, you really don’t need to know rote memory facts at all anymore ever. Like if you change by learning them, I think that’s important. But you don’t need to know dates and math. You don’t, you don’t need to know that. 

Seth: (04:26)
You need to know math, you don’t need to know arithmetic. They’re different. 

Todd: (04:29)
How to solve problems, right? You don’t need to know the what’s 204 times 16. 

Seth: (04:35)

Todd: (04:36)
So it’s changed a lot and, I have a four and a six year old in school, but what they need to know, I love the things that you boil down to how to solve big problems and how to lead. They don’t teach that very often in school. 

Seth: (04:55)
Well, they’re very hard to teach. They’re important to learn, but they’re hard to teach. And those are two different things. So the system we have in place is built around management and industrialism. And I don’t deny that either and both of them are super important. We wouldn’t have the world we live in today if we didn’t have managers. And if we didn’t have the efficiency of industrialism. Managers need compliant employees, but we’ve discovered that most compliant employees are either computers or people who live somewhere far away and therefore we’re not going to be able to succeed and get to our standard of living by being more compliant than a computer. You know, simple example is it used to take, still does, more than eight years to become a radiologist to read X-rays. Well, the first threat was once we digitize X-rays, we can have them read by somebody in Sri Lanka. But the second problem is it turns out a computer can now read an X-ray better than a radiologist. Well then what was all that school for? It’s not clear unless you became the kind of radiologist who has better than computer instincts and is willing to extend emotional labor to learn things that are hard. And that’s what we’ve got to expose kids to and help them learn from a really young age. 

Derek: (06:15)
So to that point, one of the comments, we’ve talked about this a couple of different, Jeremy introduced us talking about this with him and also with Isaac Morehouse every day. We both have young children, right? So the idea is do we even put our kids in traditional school systems? I mean, if you talking to young parents now, I mean, and we live in a technology able world. I mean, should we just live all over the world and exposed them to different cultures? 

Seth: (06:35)
I think public school is super important. My kids went to public school. I think everyone should go to public school. And it’s not important because you learn, arithmetic. It’s important because you learn what it’s like to be a citizen. And to expose yourself to people who aren’t simply of the same socioeconomic strata as you. You learn what it is to be with people you don’t want to be within any given moment. That’s a huge skill. We shouldn’t confuse ourselves into thinking that skill has anything to do with the other things we need to teach kids. So in my case, the kids were homeschooled from three o’clock in the afternoon until 10 o’clock every night. 

Derek: (07:15)
And so you literally just saw that as the socialization component. The public school was more about socialization. The learning was happening with you after the fact, which kind of goes back to my question, just say, couldn’t you still give them the opportunity to be citizens in a global world? 

Seth: (07:28)
Yea, I think that if you, as you know, part, part of the thing that people miss about homeschooling and quotation marks is it’s a very privileged thing to be able to do that. You can’t have two income household where both people are on the clock for some other boss. Because now there’s no one at home to do the homeschooling. You can’t go live on a boat and go from, you know, this Island to that Island because you need a job. So we’re not going to be able to serve hundreds of millions of people by saying everyone should do this thing. But you know, if you read the diamond age all those years ago, that device is now real. And we know from the work Nicholas Negroponte did, if you drop off a big case of solar powered Android tablets in the village where no one even speaks English within three months, not only will they figure out how to use it, the old kids will be teaching the young kids how to read. And within six months they’ll have hacked the system and learned how to program. Right. So that’s a huge plus. But we can go further than that by creating a dynamic that gets people to want to learn. 

Todd: (08:39)
I want to grab on to that. So wanting to learn, when I started working with Derek and the Scrimmage team a few months back, I was looking at testimonials, right? Social proof, one of the key elements they want to know so I can use if, and when help sharpen. And one of the reviews said, you know, I really like how scrimmage as a tool helps the team learn. But what is unique to them is they actually make my team want to learn more. And, we haven’t dug deep to introduce me to this person to figure out why that is, but I don’t know how you teach that? How do you teach someone, or give them an opportunity to actually develop a passion for learning? 

Seth: (09:23)
Well, I think everyone has a passion for learning. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t know how to speak or walk because no one is born learning how to speak or walk. And you learned how because it was worth it. And you learned how, because as you were learning, you got this positive feedback from other humans that was on an axis you cared about. The problem with third grade is you don’t get the right kind of feedback. You usually get feedback when you’re doing it wrong and you don’t get feedback that you want more of. You get a report card, right? Whereas if you learn to make a yo-yo sleep, you want to do it again because your friends gave you more status because you felt smart because it was thrilling. And tonight you need to learn how to walk the dog and then you learn how to do around the world and blah, blah, blah. 

Seth: (10:12)
That cycle we just put a stake in it and we said, study for the SAT instead because there’s going to be a test and then you get to work. And it’s the same thing. The L&D people at work, they call themselves learning and development. They’re not doing learning and they’re not doing development. They’re doing teaching and testing. And so our mission, and we’re lucky enough to have worked with lots of, L&D people on the Alt MBA is a few of them get that they have to teach leadership instead or at least have people learn it. And that’s an experiential thing. It’s not a testing thing. 

Todd: (10:48)
And you don’t finish it. The SAT, you study, study, study. You study for that test and when you’re done you’re like, Thank God I never have to learn any of that or think about any of that again really. So it’s directly against what you know, when you’re driven by passion and interest in making something that matters. 

Seth: (11:11)
Right. We know a lot about the outcomes of educational institutions. We know the SAT doesn’t predict future success or happiness. We know that people who get into a famous college do just as well in life as people who get in and go, that it’s just a filtering, sorting mechanism. And mostly we know that it’s college is becoming more like high school with binge drinking as opposed to this institution where you actually learn to learn. And so it’s going to be up to people like us to figure out how to take it out of that institution.

Todd: (11:42). Hey guys let me jump in here real quick because I have the Alt MBA pulled up on my screen here and this will be a good way for the listener and whoever is watching to see what you’re up to on the site and I want to read a little bit of the topics that you cover and read a couple of testimonials from people who have gone through it. So on the home page there is a great video here and I highly suggest if you are listening or watching you go to and watch this video. It says ‘You’re Ready, Now Is The Time.’ That actually reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, I think it is an old Chinese proverb it says, “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” So anyway as you go through the site you will see brands that people represent who have gone through the program, Google, Coca-Cola, Chobani, Johnson & Johnson, Whole Foods, Duck Duck Go. I mean it’s incredible incredible brands here. I’m just going to read through a couple of things that people learned while they were in the 4 week accelerated training, decision making. operating under ambiguity, understanding world views, risk taking, critical thinking, storytelling, marketing strategies, driving innovations, securing buy-in, management and making change happen. The next things for me that really stands out is the relationship factor. I’m a huge fan of mastermind groups and you can see on the site that a big part of what people get from this are the connections and the friendships and the network that they make while in this course. I’m sure we could do 10 episodes on this, but if you could share a specific example of what you have seen come out of this. Maybe in terms of a relationship, or value that someone has gotten from the course that would be great.
Seth: (11:49)
Yeah. We have one of the 20,000 graduates. We just got a note, an hour ago, this woman, flew from Asia to Paris to learn French. She was at a school doing immersion. They took a break. She and one of the other students went out for a croissant. They both graduated from the Alt MBA and they both graduated from the same class of the Alt MBA. And they lived 10,000 miles away and now they’re dear friends because they’re people like us. This is what we’re doing. Right? And, these things always start slow. In 1992 people said, I was delusional to say that folks would have an email address one day and this is just, this feels like that moment. It’s changing and it’s changing fast.

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