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Cracking Creativity Episode 13: Mark Guay on the Education System, the Future of Work, and Insights From Podcasting

Mark Guay is an educator and the podcaster behind The Traveling Cup and Your Life on Purpose. He is combining these passions to make a difference in the world. In this episode he talks about the education system, how we will work in the future, and lessons he has learned from podcasting.

  • Your Life on Purpose  – a micro focus podcast on school/passion/purpose
  • The Traveling Cup is an extension of school
  • met former student who went to a prestigious university
    • told him “I don’t know what the real world is.”
    • so he started interviewing people to see what the real world was
  • went to business conferences and interviewed the influencers that went to them
  • what can they teach us
    • how do we connect the dots
  • first podcast was Transforming Education
  • learned that done was better than perfect
  • is more of a doer than a planner
  • made every beginner mistake
  • he learned by doing
  • started The Traveling Cup around same time he met his former student
    • saw twice the return from The Traveling Cup than his first podcast
    • 1/2 the amount of work, twice the results
  • still teaches (12th grade), likes to teach life skills
  • school found out what he was doing within 6 months
    • they loved it, and he became the go to guy for social media

“Follow your heart and do something. If you’re doing good work, you’re going to be rewarded for it.”

  • still gets lack for social media
    • had a tweet go out at the same time he was supposed to be at a meeting
    • had to explain how HootSuite and scheduling tweets works

“Change is scary. I love change.”

“The way I stay creative if I feel like I’m in a loll of creativity is I need to have some element of change.”

  • large systems resist change
  • Switch by Chip and Dan Heath on why change is so hard
  • uses his podcast to get message out to the world and connect with people
  • wants to create course that helps people do what they love
  • people don’t know what to do out of high school because they are never asked

“The system design itself is not really set up to allow students to really explore what they love.”

  • school system is based on an industrial model
    • was built to get students used to factory setting
    • truancy officers told people to send their kids to school
    • this system doesn’t let you explore what you love

“Students who are given a  choice are more confident in who they are and what they want to do.”

  • to find your purpose, you need to give students the opportunity to fail
  • Genius Hour – based on Google’s 20%
    • students have one class period a week to work on their own projects
    • allows them to fine tune projects
    • they quickly find what they can do
    • teachers can’t grade on failure of projects
    • most students fail, but they reflect on failures
    • failing forward is what’s important
    • learned a lot from failure and reflected on it
  • Mario Armstrong using Periscope to build audience for his talk show

“Life’s not a multiple choice test.”

“When you’re forced to create answers yourself, it’s far more difficult when you spend so many years looking for the correct answer and we don’t know what the correct answer is.”

“You can’t solve the problems of tomorrow with the tools you use today.”

  • two 10th graders reach out to Harvard
    • re-created ancient trade maps using Google Earth
    • you can go to site and see what location look like today
  • girl student started cup cakery blog
  • students taught him to be humble
    • as a teacher you are supposed to have the answers, but students often teach you lessons
  • favorite thing about teaching is getting students talking
  • students want to see people connect on a more personal level

“My biggest takeaway is they inspire me to do more with my life and they inspire me to have a social purpose angle to everything I do in my life.”

  • this generation coming up wants to see change, shifts in how we do life
  • future of work will be made of entrepreneurs and freelancers
    • kids will have lifestyle businesses
    • work revolves around life not clocking in and out of a 9-5 job
    • with freedom comes happiness
    • apathy comes from the system design

“The world we’re living in now is a new type of Renaissance.”

  • Gutenberg & the Renaissance
  • we no longer need a mass message channel, all you need is a message

“You don’t need money to get your message out there.”

  • his future might not be in the classroom, but it will always be helping people
  • made impression on student who became a car photographer and one who didn’t believe she could go to college, but graduated in four years
  • Lessons he has learned while doing podcast:
    1. You can’t do it all yourself
    2. You have to think more for listener than yourself
  • joined communities and paid a coach to get better (Podcast Incubator)
  • ran ideas by people in his group
  • hired people to work on show for him

“I learned that you really have to ask for help.”

  • reached out to those he’s met/newsletter for help
  • created a landing page to teach people how to subscribe and review
  • can be hard to compete without making it into iTunes’ New and Noteworthy
  • be super focused
  • Your Life on Purpose helps you create a life plan
    • created personalized messages for people he reached out to
    • targeting 25-35 year olds who want to reinvent their careers
    • has reached many outside of his target (50 yr old almond farmer/chronically ill woman inspired by show)
  • Who are you motivating enough so they are willing to pay you?
  • meeting up with people and asking face to face
  • saw Seth Godin speak at 99U 
    • asked question by email at the conference, got a response in 30 seconds
    • referenced the question in interaction later
    • led to an interview with Seth a few months later
  • finds interviewees organically
    • most come from people he has talked to, or people that have been recommended
  • meeting people who are exploring similar ideas but are unrelated to each other on separate occasions
    • 2 women on spirit journey, man on Ayahuasca, billionaire looking to take people on Ayahuasca
  • Mark’s article on podcasting
  • meeting through Living Quirky with Christina Salerno
  • wondered how he could connect his two worlds
    • mentors to high school students
    • listeners said they wanted the same thing
  • Alex Grey and the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors
    • did yoga, lied down and couple played gongs related to chakras
  • wants to do different things to be more creative
  • reads two different books at a time – one heavy non-fiction and one light non-fiction
    • Dr. Brian Weiss on Past Life Regressions
  • before recommending books, he likes to know where people are in life
  • Icaraus Deception by Seth Godin – on dumb dumb culture
  • Give and Take by Adam Grant – better to be giver than taker
  • Kurt Vonnegut Letters  & Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maitenance
  • Bob Baker’s The Empowered Artist
  • Seth Godin/students/wife inspire him
  • wife is dealing with Lyme disease
    • was a former marathon runner who is now stuck in wheelchair
    • has not let that stop her from doing things
    • she is writing books, creating a jewelry line, playing the violin
    • it would be easy to shut down, but she is using to to do more things

“Creativity is constantly challenging yourself to try… Being able to try something that you may not be comfortable with, I think that’s being creative.”

“Starting up a daily meditation practice has really helped me find out who I am. Cause once I find out who I am, then I’m able to grow. Then I’m able to challenge myself and try new things. I feel like so often we look outside for answers and we don’t look inside ourselves enough.”

The Traveling Cup

Mark on Twitter

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