087 - Don Wettrick

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5 - 51 Speaker YOU'RE LISTENING TO CHOOSE FI RADIO The Blueprint for Financial Independence leaves a if you're looking to unlock the secrets to financial independence and early retirement your in the right place. Stay tuned to join a community of like minded are getting off the hamster wheel and taking control of their lives in the pursuit of financial independance. Choose FI your home for financial independance online.
51 - 108 Jonathan Mendonsa Alright guys welcome to the ChooseFI radio podcast today. We're going to be speaking with Don Wettrick who teaches an innovation class at Noblesville High School in the suburbs just out of Indianapolis. My understanding is he basically heard a Daniel Pink TED talk that lit a spark and fenced him that he wanted to have a larger impact on the world. He took this idea to his principal and they are radically transforming the educational process through this innovation class. While most kids are simply trying to beat the curve his students are creating business plans. Filing patents and giving lectures at Stanford. So today let's dive in Let's extract every little bit of actionable information that we can get from Don. Let's find out how this class actually started and the results he has seen as he took this from something that was in his imagination something that he has now created. There's proof of concept. Let's find out how he can take what he has learned and implement in our own lives and in the lives of our kids as we all enter into this brave new world in Gig Economy. Really really excited about this and to help me with this conversation. I have my cohost Brad here with me today how you do buddy.
108 - 155 Brad Barrett Jonathan I am doing great. Yeah I've been looking forward to this episode with Don for quite quite some time. He really encapsulates many of the tools and the attributes that we talk about on this podcast. The first and most obvious is get up and take action. Also it's something that you brought. Is there is no "they" there's no "they" coming around the corner to save everybody. It has to be you. You need to stand up and in Don's case he was a teacher high school teacher and he looked at a problem and he decided to take action. He became the "they". That is the coolest aspect of this. And I just can't wait to hear what him and his students are up to. This should be a wonderful conversation. So with that Don welcome to the show.
155 - 160 Don Wettrick Quietly blushing in the background thank you guys. Appreciate the nice introduction.
160 - 182 Jonathan Mendonsa Now you're welcome but it's all well deserved and it's and it you actually have proof of concept at this point. And while I can't wait to talk about that proof of concept I want to go back to the beginning. What are you doing and what series of events leads you to try something that no one else is doing this isn't something where someone else had this thing and it was just working and you just replicated it you started from scratch. Where does this come from.
182 - 358 Don Wettrick The origin story is and I still have this email to this day. It was a email that said Watch this. This was like seven years ago. It was Daniel Pink's TED talk my borderline ADHD kicked in and I had to watch it then and there and so is on my lunch break and I watched it and was like whoa. So if our unit had monetizations school grades do kids learn in spite of grades I showed it to him next period and I let him watch it and I'm like hey guys what do you think they'll get you know kind of cool. I think at the time as teaching as a freshman English class and I said well what if I gave you a day a week like friday where you could work on the things you've always wanted to work on. And they're like oh yeah. Then all of a sudden they started falling in love the idea like yeah like I could do things that I always wanted to do. Well again I mean wouldn't that be cool because Dan gets in there and talked about you know how Google made a lot other famous inventions during what they called the Google time. So I started it and mind you I shouldn't have started it in April because you know it's the school year is almost over so I got it's to start and thud. They said that they wanted to do these things but actually doing it they just sat and they looked at me and they waited for instruction and I was like wait. These are things you said you wanted to do yeah but How am I going to get a good grade on this. How am I going to get an A. And I'm like wait this was almost the opposite I'm like What do you love. What do you want to do. And that is when I quickly realized a we reap what we sew. We've told students for years to sit down and shut up and wait instructions. Now all of a sudden I told them to go without instructions. That didn't compute. And even though they like to say that it's like somebody saying like I'm going to be an influencer on YouTube how many videos are recorded well none. But somehow I'm going to be an influencer and sounds like guys you told me you wanted to do this. Yeah we did. And it was funny because in reality the 20 percent time is then it was called. It worked for about 20 percent of my students and they were the C and D students. It got off to a rocky start. But that's also when I learned that really it's not their fault. And by the way most adults are guilty of this as well of having that big New Year's resolution. But then the follow through of being meh. So that was the inspiration. It went OK again though the pockets of really cool projects were coming from students I didn't see work before. And so I asked my principal Mike hey do you think that I could have this as it's own class. And he laughed and he said no but I heard yes. And so he told me he's like hey Don if you see a Daniel Pink horse description in the state of Indiana catalog then maybe. And so just like in Dumb and Dumber I'm like. So you're saying I get a chance. Long story short there is a very vague discourse description in the state of Indiana that was so vague that I used it until we end up writing our own description a couple of years later. But then it was off and running.
358 - 381 Brad Barrett So Don I'm picturing the other 80 percent of students in another talk you described them as I'm not happy with a sweet subservient student. I'm picturing these kind of rule followers. Where does that stem from. Have you ever looked back to the elementary school level or even before. Maybe to parenting. And when does that shift occur when a kid is curious.
381 - 453 Don Wettrick Yes. I'm so glad you asked that. You can almost exactly point to third grade and I don't know why. I actually know where you guys live but I'm going to take a guess that in most states the state standardized test starts when in third grade kindergarten we think about how great show and tell is you know your ear really fired up about that app or that toy or that thing that you want to bring and you want to tell you want to learn something about it you want to be the master of it and you want to tell other kids. This is my thing. Show and tell is freaking amazing. Then all of a sudden first grade kicks and you start picking up some skills but no matter what education is the things that you need to learn but the things you want to learn as well. Then all of a sudden this super serious thing kicks and that the school might lose their funding if you don't memorize these useless set of facts or you know I shouldn't say I'm being unfair. If you memorize the set of facts that may be important or may not be an all of a sudden school shifts from wanting to learn to forcing you to comply then that's the biggest difference and yes it almost universally starts in third grade and by the way this isn't just me pontificating This is actually data they've been looking at. When kids stop liking school and it's it's third grade.
453 - 491 Jonathan Mendonsa I think we need to almost down and talk a bit more about this idea of internal motivation and actually not to take the Daniel Pink talk because we'll put that in the shownotes and everybody should watch that but just to really explain exactly what it is that we're talking about and I would love for you to come back and even give a better explanation of this. But my understanding is basically rewards offering someone incentives to complete a project faster works very well for simple task. Build a wall. Do this faster. It does not work well for anything that requires any type of creativity. Looking for a solution that's not apparently obvious. That was that was my biggest takeaway is that kind of where you're at as well with us.
491 - 623 Don Wettrick Oh yeah. Those simple tasks are all we've really done throughout school because you know well let's break down what Dan said you know mastery. autonomy. purpose. mastery in the sense that you want to work on things that are important to you. You know I've seen skateboarders. They have to do a kick flip. They'll break their collarbone doing it but they'll again and again try and try and try it until they master it. Flappy Birds you've seen this with video games like confounding like why am I still doing this Rubik's Cube. Throughout time we've like things that confound us and we have to just get it right. We want to get it right. It's an eight right. So then you got autonomy. Could you just leave me alone for a little bit. You know can I work on this on my own and then purpose what I'm working on has meaning think about and I'm not trying to make fun but think of your average lesson in school like hands go up when I'm ever going to use this in real life while you're not. You need to learn it anyway. Why. There is no sense of mastery. Like OK if I get down this problem I'll be done with it. When I memorize this theorem I can forget it. Next week there is no sense of you want to master it. There is no sense of purpose if law students are saying when am I going to use this real life. If your only answer is because it's on the test that's a bad thing. Why do I have to know this because you need to pass the test. Okay. But really when in life I'm going to use this? well never really but still. that's not setting our kids up for the future. The curriculum that we came up with was in 1890 and for the most part we haven't changed it too much. So when all of a sudden like if it's our job to prepare the kids for the future, having them be quiet subservient rule followers. That's not hiring. Having them memorize a bunch of facts, unless you're Ken Jennings and you can make a living off of jeopardy. Like that's no longer in style. No one's going to come up to like hey we want out. We want to hire you what can you do. What do you want me to tell you. Who sang putting on the Ritz in 1982. No but we do need a lot of fresh ideas we like our competitions catching up to us. You know what. What do you think we should do. I don't know but I can tell you a lot about the Pythagorean theorem. OK so you know this shift is a really serious thing and just quiet subservient rule followers is out.
623 - 677 Brad Barrett Don that's interesting because I see my daughter who's in fourth grade now and she has such this internal motivation to learn new things and create stories and build things. But yet in school we go to a wonderful school and she really has a top top tier teacher but unfortunately because of state rules she has to take a course called Virginia studies. So she's talking about memorizing just dopey silly facts. Why would she ever need this. When you can Google any single one of these things in two seconds. Right. So to me that seems like just a huge huge waste of time and obviously you teach high school students but this starts at the beginning thinking about how to learn what an elementary school process should look like. If you want to not create those sweet subservient students but people who are thinking differently who are motivated intrinsically. What does that look like. At an elementary school level.
677 - 815 Don Wettrick Love your questions. It starts with the 20 percent time model. By the way I'm not a fan of 20 percent time model in high school and it's simply not enough time. But let's just say the average 3rd grade classroom. We're talking 20 to 30 minutes on a Friday. By the way my township that I teach at I actually get to go to some of the elementary schools and work with some of the teachers that want to do this because innovation is born in kindergarten. We beat it out of them by third grade. So therefore third grade teachers give me 20 to 30 minutes on a Friday. That's it. What they do is they ask you know they can either ask probing questions they can say you know what are you interested in. You can do a collect and connect session. You can ask you know what kids really hyped up about and connect those two. So say the kids like I'm into Pok√©mon Go and I'm also into Fort night and you're like awesome. Could you like create a game and draw some pictures on what a game would look like if you took Pokemon Go and fortnight together. Those kids will freak out because they're passionate about. They want to master that they want to start drawing a concept for an idea. They'll want to be left alone for a while to be working on that. Or better yet and teams of three and then they'll want to present it to the class because it means something to them. You give a kid like that 20 minutes on a Friday and they will explode with creativity and not imagination. imagination is just thinking it up creativity is bringing it to the world and that starts and starts in grade school. Then ironically enough when things get super serious in middle school the battle cry here all the time is oh when when can I do this I have to I have to cover the standards. Will most middle schools are teamed right. So give me one month one day a month. You know this week it'll be science class it will hold the 20 percent time next week it will be the social studies next week it'll be the English etc. then I think that's kind of the tie that by and I by the way I do a side hustle. I consult with a lot of schools and actually homeschool parents as well on how to bring innovation and creativity to the classroom. But middle school is the perfect breeding ground because you can share these responsibilities. And then lastly and I know you didn't ask but I have to shamelessly say this is why I'm also on a mission to get an innovation and open source learning class into every high school I can because 20 minutes on a Friday isn't cutting it anymore.
homeschool, hustle, teacher
815 - 857 Brad Barrett Don this really hits home to me because I have a kindergartener and I have a fourth grader. And according to what you're saying by third grade they've already learned these negative habits though I guess they would be considered positive in normal society but for the point of our conversation they're. These sweet subservient students. How can parents who OK if I take it that I'm not going to change my school system and I don't want to use that limiting negative beliefs certainly but let's just argue that OK the school system's not going to change. But I want to help my children as much as I can. What can I do outside of class to help them think differently.
857 - 971 Don Wettrick Well first of all the people that tried to this is the home school revolution and I'm a public school teacher a public school but sometimes parents get kind of frustrated. And my answer is. I would recommend a 2 to 1 producer versus consumer ratio. First of all of course this hits home because you are producers. I mean how how much has this podcast changed your life. And I know the answer to that because you are producing content you are consuming it too. You're listening to other podcasts which are producing the same thing for your child your child. You know actually we just got into this argument with Grant. I have a 9 year old and we're starting to limit his YouTube time and I'm like are I grant you're old enough now that you're going to have to get your own channel. And so if you want an hour of YouTube time you're going to have to work on two hours to get that 2 to 1 ratio. by students being consumers. And by the way you can make these private. But by getting them in the habit of creating and not just washing is one of the great things. And then also having them deep dive into passions they already like creating something new. You know should your daughter like you know going back to my own daughters. Should your daughter go. Like my little pony. Is there a different character you could create and what kind of traits would they have. How would they blend with the other ponies. What kind of conflict would arise with the other ponies now that you introduced this pony etc etc. Because they already have this oh I'm freaking loving my little pony so they're going to already probably work on it's going to be a punishment. And if mom and dad think it's cool then you're also doubling down that bond of high value what you value and they can start becoming creators however young you want to be honest with you. Now the exploitation of I mean I've seen some youtube channels that it's a borderline on child labor laws because mom and dad are obviously trying to make money off of you know their eight year old son unboxing toys. But I really would like for them to be more producers than just consumers.
971 - 1009 Jonathan Mendonsa As I'm thinking about consumption I think as you spend more time producing even your consumption changes. So this is what some something that I found very interesting in my own life. My idea of consumption now consuming entertainment is no longer you know Grey's Anatomy right. Always beat up on that show. Rather it is learning a new skill set for my job. It's infotainment. And that's kind of almost a natural paradigm shift as you go farther down this producer lane because that becomes your hobby because that becomes your joy you end up wanting to consume entertainment that will then allow you to produce better. I mean that's just a weird thing that I've noticed in my own life and I'm wondering do you see that replicated with the kids that you're working with.
1009 - 1119 Don Wettrick Iron sharpens iron. and yes. it does. matter of fact. I would sound like Johnnie Cochran and I say this I want to create seekers and speakers not moaners and groaners. And by that we as a class start to become our own little group and we together seek opportunities instead of just looking out at the world and saying everything sucks like we're listening to what things suck. because then my students go oh there's a solution to there. And here's kind of circling back to your answer. When you congregate with people like these, you can peek around the corner you can have conversations. You you go from not listening to some mindless stupid TMZ laced awfulness, and instead you start listening to Freakonomics. You start listening to Tim Ferriss and the moaners and groaners out there aren't going to create anything. And so yes I'm exactly like you I I haven't watched a sitcom or a drama or a hack I don't even think I maybe I saw the last Star Wars but I feed my brain now. And that has changed universally. Matter of fact Funny side story. This is almost the origin story of My daughters podcast I do a fair amount a keynote speaking and there was one that was driveable was in Illinois and I was driving. We were listening to the radio. And all of a sudden there's like you know celebrity minute gossip trash came on and before I could turn the channel Eva started going off she's like this is our problem dad. And like what. She's like my generation she's Generation Z. She's like my generation will tell you all things about what Kim Kardashian just said but they don't even know who Tim Ferris is they have no idea who Naveen Jane is. And that's a problem that.
1119 - 1124 Jonathan Mendonsa You're going to be having these conversations with Anna in five years. Get ready. That's what's coming your way.
1124 - 1208 Don Wettrick I love it. And so I was like Yeah. And she's like Generation Z needs better mentors and then she paused mentors dad. I've got it I'm like. What's that. I'm going to introduce my generation to better mentors and I was like Eva. That's a really good idea. And then Eva being Eva she's like and I don't need your help. And I'm like why. She's like why don't is I've got a podcast of my own. She's like I don't think I'm going to be robbing guests from you I don't need I don't need that I'm going to find round people like OK. So backing up what you just asked. Even that it's shaping the way she looks at the world too. And the students in this class we become like this little group of opportunity seekers, very much in the sense that you know the fi community, they collectively start adding to the pot of knowledge and like hey what about this hack and what about that hack which by the way let me just get this out shamelessly when I start falling down the rabbit hole of your guy's podcast the teacher with the supplemental over and above the Roth IRA and over and above the four O3b was at the 527 plan dude 457 I would say 457. Oh my gosh. Yeah. All of a sudden I was like dang I thought I knew a lot better. I've been falling down the rabbit hole of just your guys's tips and techniques and all the different stories and everything else so yeah. Now I listen to stuff like this almost exclusively it's been fun.
457, ira, roth
1208 - 1212 Jonathan Mendonsa It is a deep hole my friend has a very deep hole.
1212 - 1249 Brad Barrett That is really cool. Hey I'm curious. A minute ago you were talking about the value of community. Right. And we certainly talk about that often on our podcast. We see it in the FI community but you also were alluding to seeing that in the classroom and I wonder if there is that sense of camaraderie from the students in this innovation class that hey maybe this isn't the norm but if the 20 of us are doing it then maybe it is normal and I guess to kind of piggyback on that. How do you see them helping each other on their path to thinking a little bit differently.
1249 - 1331 Don Wettrick The depths of your questions amaze me. It's actually almost been a problem. And the reason why is we become so tight knit within this community. And yes we do help one another that I hate to say this. It starts to affect some of the relationships with people not in this class once you can think for yourself. Again the microcosm my daughter listening to you know let's all stand by for what Kim Kardashian said she's like she'll make fun of a kid for that. You know somebody is obsessed with what and I don't know who some of these latest celebrities are but like you know all obsessing Where did you hear what Justin Bieber said. And my daughter would be like. Who. Who the hell cares. And yes this community within the class is like let's be positive. It's cool to say thanks suck. it's cool to say I'll never. It's cool to say the man has kept me down. It's hard to say I can do this. And so when you're around those speakers and speakers then all of a sudden people are like Yeah man if you need help with that you'll get feedback from the people in here and they'll give you honest feedback. Hey your design really doesn't look good but I can help. Meanwhile your friends are like oh my gosh it looks great. So you know that community has been great within the room but it does kind of affect some of their team relationships with them just blindly following orders.
1331 - 1364 Jonathan Mendonsa How does that affect. Once we start talking about specifically your class so we talk about how it affects the relationship kind of. They've broken out of the Matrix and now it's kind of hard to go back in and just pretend that everything's okay and everything should just be the way that it was. Before I get that that makes sense. What about at the granular level you have kids that see how dramatic of an effect it is when they no longer are focused on that immediate tangible reward of a grade and they start actually creating stuff. What does that mean though for this freshmen that's in your class. Has for more maybe eight more years of grades really mattering.
1364 - 1453 Don Wettrick One you can only be able to take this as actually you can take it two to three years. You have the early you can take it as a sophomore. But you also are bringing up the second negative point and that is sometimes grades go down. We have seen what I call the marine effect by that Marines look like Marines really small guys get bigger and really big guys get leaner and a Marine ends up looking like a Marine. It's scary how they're all very similar in shape and in size. So my straight D & F students start getting some C's because they're like OK I really want to work for this class and I can't fail out. but consequently some straight-A students start getting some B's because they're like I'll get done with a minimum amount of homework. If I get a B in this class so be it but I'm going to work on my business plan. I'm going to work on my event. I'm going to work on my podcast etc etc. So they start prioritizing. now the hard thing is is that sometimes parents, justifiably, get a little upset. Hey my kid used to be a straight-A student. He starts taking your class and now he's getting some B's. What the heck? And yeah I'm sorry but what they've been working on is amazing. And for that matter the parents have 200 years on their side for 200 years if you just keep your head down and just comply you'll get to go to a good college and if you go to a good college everything will work out. A lot of parents haven't looked at the data yet on that. So it's a tough sell but a lot of times the students will either find that equilibrium. But yeah again I'm not going to you know deny it. It does make their grades go down a little bit on the straight-A student.
1453 - 1473 Brad Barrett Don have you had any parents come into you in that scenario where their student maybe has gone down and grads but they're OK with it. They being the parent they're OK with it. Has that ever crossed your path. They're just so astounded by what's going on in the classroom and maybe changes they've seen in their child.
1473 - 1556 Don Wettrick Oh Most are supportive. Most are like Well to be fair the I get a lot of students that are in that c realm. So they're just like oh my gosh my kid has direction. They have found a passion they have found a calling they have found maybe an occupation. But yeah I mean sometimes my straight-A students the parents are like you know what. They're happy. You know what. They have purpose. You know what they have drive may not be for school exclusively but they see past it. And I appreciate that. However I will say this is several years ago we had one parent that she would not let her son take my class because it was not weighted and she had mathematically figured it out that if he took one less class wasn't weighted he might not finish valedictorian and that was a tough thing because the kid wasn't pleased with that decision. And that was the year when we got invited to go speak out at Stanford and we get to be guests that Google and Facebook and he missed out on his experiences. But you know what. His mom was really you know justifiably proud but he was like you know what if I would've finished number two I would've gotten to do these other things so yeah the some parents are very still very much about the grade. And again to be fair I understand I do you know there may have been a scholarship up for grabs a might not have got if he had finished number two I don't know. I'm not passing judgment but for the most part they're very supportive.
1556 - 1593 Brad Barrett Don you talked about mastery autonomy and purpose. And I'm curious is this like a a binary zero or one type thing. I mean I assume many students unfortunately in the normal paradigm of our school system really have zero of these three. Have you ever thought or are there scenarios where they can have one or two of those three. Is there a point of inflection where that actually shifts where autonomy in and of itself is valuable or autonomy and mastery. Is that a reasonable question. Have you ever thought about that.
1593 - 1718 Don Wettrick Oh yeah love your questions. So let's go over some of the things. so mastery. If I want to master flappy birds if you all of a sudden just want to master a videogame and that's all you want to do that's called a problem. So you can want to master something and not be good. You want to experience the greatest high off of meth. not good! autonomy. I just want to be left alone. not good! And matter of fact. Mastery, autonomy, purpose can be used for powers of evil too, but I like it when there are all three involved especially that purpose thing. I think that what most people lack is purpose. I think that most depression is derived from lack of purpose. We're voyeurs. Why do people watch sports. They wish that could be them. Why do people watch movies. Wish they could be them. And matter of fact as a litmus test don't just randomly go out people like what are you passionate about. I guarantee you 90 percent the people that respond will give you somebody else's dream. What are you passionate about. Oh the Colts. Oh my band. Oh Star Wars. Somebody else's work. Somebody else's dream. Meanwhile the person that has you know that they're trying to master a skill whether they're a great fly tyer a carpenter they have an art they have a skill that they're trying to master. They have time where they build it into their week. They're trying to get that great jazz drum ensemble put together and then they like a habit for a purpose. No it's not just about me it's about what I'm trying to do in the world. You put all those three together especially with a purpose. Now you have a happy fulfilled person but instead too many people I know I'm saying mostly adults too. Their passion is looking at what everybody else is doing. I think the greatest waste of human potential right now is Instagram and Facebook. What is everybody else doing. Why am I not doing that. I hate my life. Why am I not on vacation. put in that purpose in there and you've got a much different person. You have a much different direction in life.
1718 - 1721 Jonathan Mendonsa Twitter Twitter. is Totally good though right.
1721 - 1746 Don Wettrick Yes. Yes because that's where I actually you know what though Twitter is more spray and pray people don't fall down the rabbit hole as much. It's never much in depth it's a couple of things here a couple things there. I personally love LinkedIn. Everybody there is so nice it's everybody. Most people on LinkedIn are so upbeat. It's a lot of times productivity hacks is how they're getting better. So if I'm going to fall down a rabbit hole of social media it's linkedin.
1746 - 1796 Jonathan Mendonsa All right. Very cool. Yeah that's the part I landed on the value of Twitter. So much powerful stuff there and I thought what we could do. You know we've talked about this at the high level. I want to go granular I want to see what is actually happening inside this classroom and there's two reasons that I think there will be value for the audience. One is there's a lot of teachers in our audience there's a lot of teachers that we're looking to have an impact or looking for a way to empower children and for them it's not about just helping more of them get straight A's. It's having an impact on the lives of the kids that are in their care. I can sense that my wife's teacher I know she feels that the grades are great and they may be a metric but it's not ultimately her purpose. Let's talk about the classroom what's actually going on in the classroom. What does a day look like and what have your students produced because of this way of looking at things.
1796 - 2050 Don Wettrick So the class is about six to seven weeks long and then the rest of the year is open source learning the first six weeks we start discovering how to think for yourself how to reframe problems. Some of the basics of innovation some a little sprinkled things are what we call a you know design thinking or things of that nature. We even give them some time about a week to cure rate and have a good social media presence. No FML no duck face selfies no double middle fingers. You being a professional. Which by the way puts them so ahead of the curve. They have advantages that are unheard of because they're 16 years old on social media. Broadcasting what they're doing good in the world. Then after that six to seven week training period is over we do some things that I force them to do and I hate to say that like they start finding projects of their own that they want to work on but sprinkled throughout the year. I asked them to go work a struggling nonprofit and by struggling it can't be a staff of over 100 people you know no Red Cross no you know Salvation Army. I mean those are all great organizations but I'm talking about like a battered women's shelter that has a staff of three. And so a lot of times if you can't think out the box you can think really innovative within a box. So a non-profit is like oh here's our set of problems and boy do we need help then they can start getting really innovative and helpful to the community. Then second we have this pitch competition in our state. I don't think that all kids should be entrepreneurs. I don't think that all people should be entrepreneurs. But I think we should all think like them. So they put together an idea pitch competition. It's healthy for them to do. And then towards the end of the year actually we just wrap this up yesterday. I have them go out and help a struggling Russian struggling having them help a small business within our town that goes over very well to because again they can get innovative within that box projects that they have launched. My gosh like you said earlier we have some patents that have been filed. We have you know some of the cooler topics this year. We had two students that end up getting to know the guy in Ghana. He and then the two Lukes end up raising some money forming their own nonprofit and they've just broke ground for a school they're building and it's not American Red Cross it's building it. They are matter of fact. One of this one of the Lukes moved out there right after Christmas break he graduated in December and he spent about a month and a half overseeing the project then we've got some kids that host events. We've got some students that have been entrepreneurial has started their own companies. We've got a couple of podcasts. We've got a couple of bloggers etc. but those are the big sexy things the practical things I love to like we had while this will be near and dear to your heart. We had a student that wanted to start a stock picking club actually kind of an interesting thing. We have a rule of thirds of my class. So when you want to choose a project you have to submit a proposal and the rule of thirds are as follows. Number one are you passion about it good. And that's normally where a lot of people stop. Number two what skills are you going to acquire because of this project. And number three who does it serve other than you. And so the student came up to me says Hey I want to be a day trader. Like all right let's go over the rule of thirds. I said are you passionate about it. Are you kidding. Holds put's selling short. I don't know much about these things this is going to be amazing. Like all right what skills are you going to acquire. Oh I'm going to be rich I'm going to learn all these tips and tricks and techniques to my management. Ok awesome. And I said number three. Who is that serving other than yourself. Pause. I don't know. I mean I want to make money and I'm like OK I respect that. But it's one of my rules. And so he thought about like you know. So we have like a kind of a glorified study hall the other day called academic lobbies like what if I held an academic lab where I'm like a day or two ahead of my students so like I could learn some of these techniques and then I could teach it to them the next day and then that way I could get number three and I'm like amazing. Yeah. And then they end up getting into cryptocurrency like a year and a half ago and all these are things and so having these projects in place has been like I geek out. in what they do. Matter of fact one of my cooler things just started three of my students just started a business and they're busy already. They're developing for alexa voice skills and that's going on well.
blogger, health, smallbusiness, stocks
2050 - 2106 Jonathan Mendonsa I was so struck as you were talking about the two looks that were helping start that school in Ghana and this idea of what is a story you tell yourself about yourself. And I wanted to contrast that with the mother that was incredibly concerned about their child's heading that valedictorian and using that as a strategy to probably get him a scholarship and getting him into the school of their choice. There can only be one valedictorian right there. There can be only one but everybody can explore the story that they tell themselves about themself and what these guys did. I got to imagine looks infinitely more valuable on paper if they were going to go back and do the traditional route and go to college and get the four year degree to be able to talk about this business plan that they did and that they implemented is so much more compelling to even something like an admissions office that obviously values grades than being the valid valedictorian of the class. To me that really just stood out to me and I was just curious about your thoughts on that as well.
college, scholarship
2106 - 2172 Don Wettrick Well first of all with all due respect Ricky Bobby There isn't only one valedictorian. There are thousands. This year's graduating class in 2018 there will be hundreds of thousands of valedictorians. How many were invited to go speak at Stanford about their business that year 10 maybe more. I don't know. But considerably less so. With all due respect I think I'm agreeing with you. I would have jumped at the opportunity. I don't care if I was number one ironically enough. One of the students that went to that was literally in the graduating class of five hundred seventy nine. He was number 579. He was one that had a patent. He didn't graduate. He just like stopped. He went through what it should've been his senior year is like I'm good I'll take my GED. By the way kid was really really smart. School just wasn't his thing I chase experience. And so back to what you said a couple of minutes ago to the kid that used to chase the grade. Now they're chasing purpose. now they're chasing experience. now they're chasing opportunities.
2172 - 2238 Brad Barrett Don you're someone who obviously is challenging these preconceived notions these societal norms but how do you try to expand not just beyond yourself. Like how do you try to to look at this problem of not only education but for me it's it's college right like 250000 dollars for a private college. Seems crazy to me when I'm not sure not only their opportunity costs of four years spent there but what are people doing necessarily partying a lot. Making some friends. OK. Some connections and learning some but you know it's kind of indeterminate what they're actually learning but that's the societal norm right. So it's almost like table stakes of you need a college degree to do X but I'm looking at society and saying that can't be the case that can't be what my daughter who's in fourth grade now is going to have to deal with because I just can't stomach that it doesn't make sense to me. How do you get beyond just OK I know this intuitively for myself and try to expand that to other people.
2238 - 2300 Don Wettrick First of all I guess I'm putting my money where our mouth as my own daughter. By the way I believe in them choosing their path. But going back to Ava. She's got 3.9. and at minimum, next year, she's going to take a gap year. minimum. She might not go to college. And this is by no means a slam on any university. But she wants to go the entrepreneur route. She's like, if I had to take a class from somebody that has never been an entrepreneur but talks about it I can't stomach that. And then she said Alicia I'm down. She's like dad. And she said in state I live in Indiana and she said a particular well known school for engineering and she said. How much is that a year. About 26000. She says OK. She says so about two years is roughly 50 50 2000 I said that's right. She says How about this. You know you've already got my college account set aside right. Like yeah it's paid for honey. Grandpa and Grandma and mom and I have stocked away she says. So a four year degree in stays around 100000. So that's right Sheizaf split you half and that will be my startup fund.
2300 - 2303 Jonathan Mendonsa Brad why isn't Ava on this call what happened.
2303 - 2306 Brad Barrett She. She'll be on a future podcast.
2306 - 2388 Don Wettrick Oh she thinks she's a financial net dude. She is so well cudos to my wife my wife and our whole family. We're FI people man. We have live below our means all our life. Our biggest thing is we set a goal to have her house paid off before 40 and I got the final note on my birthday when I was forty nine. Yeah. Anyway people come up to me like what's easy for you to say. All kids should have to go to college and I'm like, no some don't. By the way some do. you want to go to medical. You got to go to college. You want to go into advanced engineering. Got to go to college. But there's some things you're like. I want to be a journalism major. Start a freaking blog. start a blog. and people well, It's the network you get into college. You know who has an advantage. If you start a network at age 16 or age 22 when you're 22 you're everybody else when you're 16. Oh my gosh. It sounds so braggadocios like a lot of my students are killing it because we know it's not what you know it's who you know. And so are students are like . OK. Let's know people don't reach out to people and say I need to learn with you. I've got this thing that I'm working on. You seem amazing and a lot of times they don't like e-mail George Lucas. Email the guy that has a videographer studio down the street. You can hack your learning. And again you know this is easy for us to say I understand people like well you know you still need to get it have a good degree to get a job. Google that please.
college, families, medical
2388 - 2431 Jonathan Mendonsa You know as you're saying this. What's coming to my mind is you have so many people that are in their 30s that are now listening to podcasts and trying to add all this information on are thinking man what if I knew what I know now when I'm in my teens like in fact that's one of our questions that we're going to ask you later. What if what would you tell your younger self. These kids are actually doing it. They're actually learning this stuff that everybody else is learning in their 20s and 30s at the age of 16. And what strikes strikes me it's really incredible is that there's so much less competition. There's so few voices that are in those teen years because they're all focused on trying to beat the curve or get the A. There are so few voices that are going outside of that that there's just there's no competition and so you just get outsized results for that effort that you put in.
2431 - 2535 Don Wettrick Yeah. And I think that's one thing that we're trying to change is that paradigm or at least be a real irritant in the system and make no mistakes. I'm not making friends everywhere I go. We're winning some people over. But then there's some traditionalists that are like this is wrong and it's because I've seen it at the bookends. I've seen more innovation from the middle than I have on the ends. And by that I mean if you go to a Preparatory High School they have this dreaded word called tradition. because the way things used to be will always be the way things are. We don't have to adapt. We're this class or this high school. OK. All of our students go to Harvard and Yale and Princeton and. OK great. And then on the other hand, and by the way I understand this, the lower performing schools are chasing safety. They'll brag if they have a bragging point it's like hey we had fewer suspensions this year. We had a lot less violence. And by all means I want a safe school that is priority number one. Like how many businesses did this high school launch did you guys hosted the events that were out the ordinary. No, but we were very quiet and well-behaved and our graduation, which is important. But they're just worried about again. I understand why but they're worried about safety. The ones that are concerned is the middle especially in only the middle class. They're like they know their jobs are going away like they know no one hasn't seen a grocery store dwindle down and down and down on employees. Everybody's seen the new automated grocery store from Amazon. We have seen so many reports that semi truck drivers will be automated here soon they get it. And so they're trying to think OK what's next. That's one of the things we're trying to do we're trying to send out that message and work with anybody that wants to listen.
2535 - 2569 Jonathan Mendonsa As he's saying this Brad I don't know if with you as well but that quote from George Bernard Shaw is coming to mind that reasonable people adapt themselves to the world whereas unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. And so the you know the conclusion the obvious conclusion being that all progress therefore depends on unreasonable people. That's what you're describing. And I think that's the benefit of these kids breaking out of the matrix at this younger age that they then now have their 20s and 30s and 40s while the rest of us are grappling grappling with an ever changing reality. They've already observed that and now they've put actions in place to get in front of it.
2569 - 2594 Don Wettrick I totally agree. I think this is the difference between an improvement versus a new opportunity. There's a lot of school improvement out there. There's a lot of if you can get this better study technique or like it. People want to improve school don't stop. You need a new opportunity in the way you can't you can't be innovative unless you know the basics like I'm I still think a lot of our modern education is still fine but you need time for innovation and failure.
2594 - 2619 Jonathan Mendonsa And a lot of our schools their hands are tied as well. I mean this conversation wasn't intended necessarily to go directly to the source but I know that as we're recording this in May I believe this is basically a social season and so you talked about needing that safety. That is a a performance incentive for different schools and failure to meet those assholes really come with some significant drawbacks for the systems themselves.
2619 - 2686 Don Wettrick Yes and No. to The Brave and Bold go the spoils. I'm in a public school guys and this was without. I have asked for apologies and I have definitely not asked for permission. on A lot of things but I was never shy in the fact but, I know, I know, what I'm doing is preparing kids for the future. If you want to fire me, fire me. but I can go down that ship. and I think it's going to take some bold superintendents, some bold principals to say OK we get it. The state is forcing us to do this. But dang it we can squeeze out some time for innovation right here. So I don't accept the, Well yeah but the system. screw your system. Find a way. Just like the person that wants to get in shape. Well when will I ever have time to work out every time you need to go to the bathroom do 10 pushups. Jonathan I know you're a push up pull up guy. You integrate your workout into the day. Don't give me your excuses. Does do practical things. So I want schools to quit giving me pass the buck. well the state. find a way and do it!
2686 - 2710 Brad Barrett Don I hear you completely. I'm curious. This podcast is about taking action. What does this look like 10 years from now if you were perfect. How do you get. Your innovation class into other schools. How can teachers and parents and other educators listening to this podcast How can they make a difference in their own community.
2710 - 2836 Don Wettrick Shameless self promotion asterisk. Contact me at Don Westrick on Twitter. I would have loved help anybody that's willing if the parent wants to lead this school or if you're just wanting to do this on your own actually have ironically enough as Gary V that kind of scolded me for wanting to try to change schools and I should be trying to do things for the parent. But if I waved a magic wand every grade school starting at least a third grade has a 20 percent time or genius hour whatever you want to call it and you start setting aside time for innovation at the middle school. It's teamed you have time for innovation and maybe squeeze in some entrepreneurship and at the high school level you have an elective. And I don't like to force it. I think it should be an elective but there's an elective for students to try things things that are relevant. I mean you guys get this all the time people be moaning like why don't they teach financial skills in high school. Well sometimes they do a lot of times as the econ class. It's also an elective. We'll start squeezing in these things that start giving them time to do innovation class and open source learning because and by the way this could save them thousands of dollars. You know we talked about college being expensive. Fun fact: how many people change their major? a lot. I dare say 70 percent. You know why they changed a major cause once they start trying the things that they thought that they were interested in. They realized they don't like it. So if you have a junior that starts trying the things they might major in and they realize well this sucks I just saved them 25 grand minimum. We start providing this kind of opening you know open source learning class and every high school I think you're going to see a dramatic shift in the last point. All over the United States we have these coworking spaces these startup centers whatever you want to call them. I want more people to realize, businesspeople included, the greatest coworking space the greatest startup center that we have are our schools and they're tax funded. If you're a local entrepreneur set aside 8 kids as your focus group. you'll be mesmerized by what you learn and then the kids will learn from you. I would highly love if more entrepreneurs business leaders would like to come into the schools and work with our kids.
college, tax
2836 - 2858 Jonathan Mendonsa Well Don let's get explicit here because I think there are going to be. I know that we have so many educators in our group and I know that they have actually joined an educator group on our one of our private groups on Facebook just to start having these types of conversations I know that there are principals administrators as well as teachers in that group. And I know that they're going to hear this and immediately want to connect with you what is the best way for someone to reach out.
2858 - 2893 Don Wettrick Honestly I'm more active on Twitter than email. So at Don Westrick at d'Eau n w e t r c k you can also email me Don at start it up innovation dot com. We also now have a digital course for schools that kind of want to implement this. I've got as early as eighth grade taking this course in as old as I actually has some 30 year olds taking this class that is at future ready you dot com. That's future ready. The letter you in place of university dot com or you know what. I also lurk in on your Facebook page so they can find me on there.
2893 - 2939 Jonathan Mendonsa Awesome. And I want to say that you know you have captured the imagination of the educational system as well as some of the greatest entrepreneurial minds in the country including you know we started this episode talking about there is no they. That's Jeff Hayes from Priceline who I know has come on your show has participated with your group. Tim Ferriss Gary V. I mean just really the people that are passionate about what you're doing and it frankly it blows my mind. And times are changing. And you have two choices. You can just try to keep your head down and do what you can or you can look for opportunities when it presents themselves and find people that are kind of acting as a guiding light for this new way of tackling this journey that we're all living together Don. Normally that would be the end of the episode. But on this show we would love to give you the chance to tackle the hot seat. Are you ready for this.
2939 - 2942 Don Wettrick I would be disappointed if there is no time for hotseat.
2942 - 2944 Jonathan Mendonsa Let's do it.
2944 - 2971 Speaker In a world drowning in debt and rampant consumption trapped by the chains of lifestyle inflation these questions highlight the secrets of those who have broken free Welcome to the choose FI hot seat.
2971 - 2975 Brad Barrett All right Don. Question number one your favorite blog.
2975 - 2984 Don Wettrick I'm going to go favorite blog and podcast combo is still and forever probably will be Freakonomics. I love the Stephens love em.
2984 - 2997 Jonathan Mendonsa You know I am a huge fan of the book and even listen to the audio book and the only podcast episode of theirs that I've listened to was the one they did most recently with Jack Bogle that well just blew my mind. It was totally fantastic.
2997 - 3000 Don Wettrick Everything they do is high quality. I love them.
3000 - 3006 Jonathan Mendonsa All right question number two now your favorite article of all time and this can be one that you wrote or somebody else's.
3007 - 3033 Don Wettrick So this came out about four months ago I believe and it was an article from Mother Jones in the article titled I believe is you will lose your job to a robot and faster than you think. It is scary. They in a Ray Kurzweil kind of way predict what jobs are going to go away and what it's going to be automated and when we'll see the end of employment. It's a really long article it's almost a novella but I highly recommend people take a look at it.
3033 - 3046 Brad Barrett Don I can ask a million questions just about that but for the sake of time I will not I think I'm going to read that hopefully everyone in the audience reads it. That sounds absolutely fascinating. Question number three your favorite life hack.
3046 - 3087 Don Wettrick My favorite Life hack was taught by my dad and this is when you guys will be smiling and I'll hear your smile through the microphone. My dad's advice to me was always pay yourself first. When I started getting my first paycheck he's like Donny make sure you pay yourself first like. What's that dad. And he says Well normally what a lot of people do is they get their paycheck. They'll blow through it on the fun things or adults will get it and they'll pay the things they have to and then what's left they'll do the fun things and then they may cross their mind of saving what you should do Sanas you should always take at least 20 percent of your paycheck. Sock it away. Pretend it's not there but that's you paying yourself first. Anything else past that is going to your bills or stupid things that has stuck with me my entire life.
hotseat-lifehack, savings
3087 - 3091 Jonathan Mendonsa getting a shout out on the podcast. Well done.
3091 - 3092 Don Wettrick He's the man.
3092 - 3096 Jonathan Mendonsa All right. Question number four your biggest financial mistake.
3096 - 3167 Don Wettrick I'm going to do two things penny stocks. Yeah everybody does the collective. I'm so disappointed at penny stocks when everybody was getting rich in 1998. You know I fell into the trap. I saw some people place bets and had a couple of home runs. Twelve hundred percent rate of return. But the majority of them were lose everything. It wasn't Vegas but worse. There was no free drinks. And then second was right when I first got my credit card in college I thought it was the coolest thing that I got to Cincinnati Reds credit card and I went and bought a bunch of CDs. Jimi Hendrix Greatest Hits being the first one. And also the bill came on like way way. This stinks. Why did I do that. And so I learned I mean even though my dad had taught me better it literally took my first round of CDs and I'm talking and this is how financially frugal I am. I think the bill came to like 54 bucks and I freaked out because I was like I mean mind you this is in 1991 was like This is the dumbest thing ever. And I don't think I cut out my credit card yet but I knew that I didn't spend stupidly but it was a great lesson. Those first five or so CDs.
college, stocks
3167 - 3168 Jonathan Mendonsa Do you have a CD player outside of your car.
3168 - 3169 Don Wettrick No.
3170 - 3173 Jonathan Mendonsa Alright there it is you can put them on your wall though. They're collectibles.
3173 - 3181 Don Wettrick Are they not so sure. I mean the hipsters brought back the cassette and albums so it's some point they'll be cool again.
3181 - 3196 Brad Barrett I love your nightmare your nightmare credit card story is fifty dollars so that's fantastic that it was such a learning lesson and it was in ten thousand dollars right. How many people are saddled with thousands of dollars in debt. So well done on the learning lesson right.
3196 - 3214 Don Wettrick Yeah literally it is fifty four dollars and 12 cents I remember just completely remember. But again giving a shout out to Chuck and Sue Westrick. I was raised by a teacher and a stay at home mom. So you do the math on that. Oh BT dubz I hope my dad's not embarrassed by this. He retired at 58.
3214 - 3217 Jonathan Mendonsa Of the same ilk. Well done sir well done.
3217 - 3222 Brad Barrett Yeah Don. Question number five. The advice you would give your younger self.
3222 - 3262 Don Wettrick Hope this isn't cliche fail make a fool of yourself be the person on the dance floor the people are pointing out and laughing out because the bigger the fail the more the story the more the story the more the growth the more people start looking to you. I didn't take some risks and I regret it. I started taking more risks when I'm 45 and that was kind of crazy because I had three kids. So if you're 12 go out and sell door to door if you're 15. Start a podcast. Will people make fun of you. Maybe. But deep down inside the respect that I wish young Donnie Westrick would have been more of a producer at age 17. Instead of waiting till he was 35.
3262 - 3266 Jonathan Mendonsa Don thank you so much for coming on the show and this has been fantastic.
3266 - 3294 Don Wettrick I appreciate you guys. I'll be honest with you. Got to brush up around skills you guys. The depth of your questions were blowing me away but I love the podcast. Love your entire community and you guys are seriously helping so many people in a real practical way. I am just thoroughly impressed and so glad I came across your guys podcast and by guest by chance. Thank you Vince Puglisi for introducing us. I love what you guys do. Thank you so much.
3294 - 3357 Jonathan Mendonsa All right everyone thank you for listening to the episode today. I hope you got value from the show and I hope you been getting value from the episodes up to this point. If you want to support us in what we're doing here at ChooseFI. here are four easy ways 1 leave us an itunes review if you want to do that just go to choosefi dot com slash iTunes Two use our page to sign up for travel credit cards. If you want to travel the world with miles and points instead of your hard earned dollars then just go to chooseF.I. dot com slash cards and get started today. 3 If you're working on the milestones EFY set up a personal capital account to track your progress and use our affiliate link. It's completely free and just go to chooseF.I. dot com slash PC P as in Paul C as in Cat and four and most importantly find your friends co-workers and family members who might be open to this message and tell them about the podcast. Have them start with episode 38 the Why of Fi and right behind that have them go listen to Episode 21 the pillars of FI. It is a fantastic starting place. Alright My friends the fire spreading will see you next time as we continue to go down the road less traveled. You've been listening to choose FI radio podcast where we help middle class Americans build wealth. One life hack at a time.

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