Evolve Podcast
A podcast about heroes solving the world's greatest challenges.
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How to Change Higher Education

Featuring Guest -

Brandon Stover

Headshot of podcast host.
hosted by: Brandon Stover
February 7, 2022

Brandon Stover it the founder of Plato University, an alternative, online university that turns your passions into purpose by helping you master skills and launch a career solving global challenges. As a podcaster, he hosts the Evolve podcast. From climate change to education to mental health, he mines the wisdom of visionaries and experts for the tools and tactics to solve these global issues. He is also the founder of the Social Good Media Network, a media group united around the goal of helping listeners understand the global challenges we face and how we can work together to solve them. Before these ventures, I spent half a decade of experience as a designer, marketer, and educator.

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what you'll learn in this episode

  • How to listen to others and TRULY understand them
  • How I am changing the higher education paradigm
  • And the dark challenges I faced that led me to finding my purpose
  • and much more...

How Brandon Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

I believe that evolution of the world requires evolution of the individual. My mission is to liberate and educate individuals with the belief, willpower, and skills to transform their life & discover a fulfilling purpose to change the lives of others.

Selected Links & Resources From This Episode

Connect With Brandon Stover:


People Mentioned


  • (00:00) - Introduction
  • (06:36) - How to navigate difficult conversations
  • (09:01) - How to calm the voice of judgement in your mind
  • (11:00) - How to connect and recognize other's emotions
  • (12:33) - How podcasting made me a better listener
  • (16:20) - How podcasting skills transfer to other areas of life
  • (20:28) - Podcasting as a container for deeper conversations
  • (24:09) - Chasing the golden ticket and reaching depression
  • (28:24) - How I started the path to finding purpose
  • (32:35) - Does fear play into my decisions
  • (37:42) - How students start finding their purpose at Plato University
  • (40:30) - How did Plato University start
  • (45:03) - How millennials and gen z are demanding purpose in their life
  • (53:40) - What does Plato University look like at scale?
  • (57:53) - How do employers look at education?
  • (52:04) - What does a degree signal in Higher Education?
  • (1:05:29) - What does compassion mean?


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[00:00:00] Brandon Stover: Hey, you welcome to evolve the show to help you become a hero and solve the world's greatest challenges. I'm your host, Brandon Stover, founder of Plato university. And I interview social innovators, entrepreneurs, and thinkers about the global problems we face and the solutions they have created to solve them.

Today's challenge higher education. Our guest today is actually me. I had the pleasure of being interviewed on the morn common podcast by my friends, Keith Richardson, and broadening. You may remember them from episode 66 on the evolve podcast. These gents are thoughtful, funny, and have a great mission to anchor humanity and compassionate conversations.

in this interview, I share how to listen to others and truly understand them, how I'm changing the higher education paradigm and the dark challenges I faced that led me to finding.

And as a bonus, you're going to get to hear how three podcasters use or failed to use their podcasting skills in conversations outside of podcasts.

If you want to hear more interviews from these guys, Please search the more in common podcast on your podcast app. Now enjoy the interview.

[00:01:05] Keith Richardson:

Welcome back to the more common podcast. I am your cohost Keith with my man, Rodney, Rodney, how you doing today? Well,

[00:01:16] Rodney Campbell: it's happening here at the delicious dish. We're going to be talking about apple critters, you just pan sear that butter, get those apples and cinnamon going. I'm doing well. Go really well here at the more common practice where we, we anchor people and compassion conversation with care about compassion a lot.

And in this competition, you're actually going to, at the end, you're going to hit your, a explanation of crash. That's really nice. It's about sheriffs suffering. Compassion has a lot to do with suffering the idea of pain, the idea of discomfort and not the eye, sort of differing from empathy, where you take on that pain of someone else, that emotional burden of someone else.

There could be an element of that and compassion, but it's more about understanding it and being willing to sit with somebody through it and. Actively work to improve their situation and or your situation. So it was a, it's a really good definition coming up. We have conversations with Brandon Stover about to go dead.

Hell Keith.

[00:02:22] Keith Richardson: Tell me about it. I mean, we're in this interesting time socially with people evaluating jobs, their lives, their careers coming out of COVID, but they want to do, and Brandon is starting his own online university with a very, very different twist to education and to how people can pursue their lives through learning that are the lives that they want through learning and not just go the traditional route and even the vision of it, of where it will go with partnering with businesses and other things.

It's just, it's a, he's an awesome dude and his ideas really, really clear. And I really, I'm going to let the show talk about, about the ideas, but that's the cornerstone now? Why would someone actually listen to it though? Ravi?

[00:03:14] Rodney Campbell: Brent is super thoughtful. And I think if you are undergoing any kind of a transition or life transition challenge, or you would like to be going through electric position, like leaving a job or starting a job or learning something new is listening to him is, is going to be,


[00:03:36] Keith Richardson: And so if you do like this conversation as always share it, give us a, like, leave us a review and check us out@morencommonent.com where you can learn more about the podcast and all our past guests, and really what we're trying to do with this consulting business, where we're seeking to help organizations build a culture anchored on, you know, compassionate conversation and psychological safety using our force, that more approach.

So check us out where we're open. If you're interested in talking more. And with that, we'll go on to.

[00:04:14] Brandon Stover: I think it first, it's been a practice of validating those emotions in myself, realizing him and myself, because then I see where they come from and they're often feel logical things, you know, they're just, they're triggers that happen.

And then seeing the, okay, if, if it's happening to me, it probably happens in other people and say, you know, something that is going on at work with my wife, she's having some sort of issue there. I need to listen to her and validate the emotions that she's having, whether the problem seems irrational or it could quickly be solved, which I may think from my perspective, I'm a problem solver.

I'm like, yeah, you just gotta do this thing. Well, first I need to actually acknowledge that she's having these emotions and feelings about it.

[00:04:58] Keith Richardson: Today we are with Brandon Stover. Brandon believes that evolution of the world requires evolution of the individual. His work strives to evolve the individual by liberating and educating others, to have the belief, willpower, and skills to change their life and discover a fulfilling purpose to change the lives of others.

[00:05:22] Rodney Campbell: As a founder, Brandon is launching a personal. Online university that combines the student's passions with skill-building to solve the world's greatest challenges, constantly evolving himself through learning. He is obsessed, obsessed with how he can deliver this power to others and scale its impact.

[00:05:40] Keith Richardson: As a podcaster.

Brandon is also the host and producer of the evolve podcast. A show about how social innovators and founders can change the world from climate change to education, to mental health, he minds the wisdom of visionaries and experts for the tools and tactics we can use to solve these global issues. He also created the power to podcast 90 day audio course, which creates.

Which teaches podcasting in just 10 minutes a day and has over 75,000 downloads to date prior to these

ventures, Brandon

[00:06:16] Rodney Campbell: has a half a decade of experience as a designer, marketer and educator, his portfolio and body of work can be found@brandonstover.com.

[00:06:26] Keith Richardson: Brandon, welcome to the show. My man. Glad to have you.

[00:06:30] Brandon Stover: Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate it. Yeah.

[00:06:36] Keith Richardson: We start every conversation talking about your tip to navigating difficult conversations and yours is, is common, but the way you answered it is unique and it ties into one of our core more principles to creating psychological safety and, and building compassion.

And that is being open to listen more with. You know, your answer was, listen, keep listening and keep listening until you have a deep understanding. So what does that look like for you? When, you know, maybe you feel like you've listened enough, but maybe you haven't.

[00:07:16] Brandon Stover: Yeah. You know, I think currently it's just my wife and I together.

We don't have any children and I work from home most of the time. So the most interaction happens with her. And so when a difficult conversation comes up, I would have most of the time be with her. And what I try and do during those conversations is really hear what she's saying, trying to understand it from her side and not just her perspective, but you know, the emotions that she's feeling with that perspective and where she's coming from with that perspective.

So I often try and to listen. I hear what she's saying. And then there's probably a voice or some perspective or opinion or judgment or a hundred other things coming up in my mind as she's talking. And I try and calm that or see why that's coming up in myself and then continue to listen to her before I blurt that out and then try and relay back to her, you know, what she had just spoke of both validating the emotion that she's having with that perspective.

And then, yeah. Trying to truly understand what it is that she said, what that perspective is my name. Sometimes she corrects me sometimes I didn't get it right. Which is okay, because then, you know, I get the chance again to listen. And I think that has been something that has served me well for a long time.

I am more often to be the person that listens and let the group speak and whatnot. And then I will. Interject every once in a while after I've thought through my own thoughts before speaking,

[00:09:01] Keith Richardson: when you said try and calm that those biases, those judgments, those criticisms, those, those, that voice in our head that wants to say no, you're wrong.

How is that an active effort for you in those difficult situations? Do you find it to be easy to comment? Like, do you have any tricks to calming that voice?

[00:09:26] Brandon Stover: I find it decently easy. I guess if it's a difficult conversation about something that, you know, I definitely have an opposing view about now, it will come more quickly because you know, you're getting information coming in and your brain saying, Hey, this is opposing information of what you currently have in here, but, and your at least my first reaction may be to.

You fight against that, like withhold, cause that's part of your identity, that information that you have, you've made up your worldview that way. And so what I try and do first is recognize, uh, the situation that I'm in, you know, the space that I'm in bring to the present moment and then acknowledge that that view or emotion is coming up and try and understand that why it's coming up.

Is it because, you know, I truly am opposing the view and then why is that? What kind of evidence do I have for that? Or is it because it's a trigger, an emotional trigger from, you know, something trauma from childhood or, you know, something that, you know, really growls me up and then acknowledging that emotion, this isn't something that actually came easy to me until I don't know, a few, probably three or four years ago.

And it was really a way of thinking about. Creating a deeper connection with my wife that I needed to first acknowledge the emotions that I was having. Uh, because before that I was much more closed off and wasn't even acknowledging those coming up at myself.

[00:11:00] Rodney Campbell: Like, so one of the things you said was the emotional part, like trying to hear what she's saying, but also in seeing it from her point of view, but then also trying to understand the emotional aspect of where she's coming from.

How do you. How's that going or like, how's it going? But like, how do you do it when you do it? Well, when you do it

[00:11:23] Brandon Stover: well, yeah, I think first it's been a practice of validating those emotions and myself realizing that myself, because then I see where they come from and they're often illogical things, you know, they're just, they're triggers that happen.

And then seeing the, okay, if, if it's happening to me, it probably happens in other people and say, you know, something that is going on at work with my wife, she is having some sort of issue there. I need to listen to her and validate the emotions that she's having, whether the problem seems irrational or it could quickly be solved, which I may think from my perspective, I'm a problem solver.

I'm like, yeah, you just got to do this thing. Well, first, I need to actually acknowledge that she's having these emotions and feelings about it because there's something in her experience that I guess, you know, thinking of the theme of your guys' podcasts makes us more in common than actually different, you know, maybe in the situation that she's having and the problem she's having at work, I would do this certain thing, but if I was feeling the same emotions that she's feeling at that time, I may be reacting, reacting in the exact same way.

So if I can acknowledge those, I better understand where she's coming from.

[00:12:35] Keith Richardson: There's something that you said that this all hasn't come easy and listening is one of those things that. We throw around, oh, this person's a good listener or they're a good listener. And we, because maybe we aren't as good of a listener.

We might attribute that person's good listening to a trait or a quality when some people, yes, they're just naturally good listeners. Benjamin Matthis is a great example, but even he is an individual who's had to work at. It had to find it. What was that journey for you? What, what is it, Ben and what triggered you to be more of a, a better

[00:13:24] Brandon Stover: listener?

Yes. Yeah, part of it is a trait for me. And I think this is a good topic of every trait that we have has both a positive and negative aspect to it. Being a good Lister comes from. Me being an introvert, but that also comes from a lack of confidence growing up of like putting out my ideas or what I'm going to say.

And so I would, as a default end up listening, now that doesn't actually mean that I was actively listening and hearing what other people were saying, but it was more of a lack of, I'm just not opening my mouth. What I had to work out was yeah. Becoming a better listener in and truly understanding what they're saying.

And I think for me, it came in this love of solving problems and also finding out how other people think, how they work, how they are solving problems. And it was one of the things that drove me to start my podcast. I just wanted to dig into people's minds. I want to figure out why do they see the world that way?

Why are they thinking this way? What are the, the ways that they think that helps them to reach whatever success that they have when I was working in architecture nine to five job was not enjoying my life at that time. And I started listening to podcasts during then sort of as a way of like, they have control of my body here, but they don't have control of my mind.

I can put whatever I want into my mind at that time. That's. So I had started listening to impact theory by Tom bill, you and he talks a lot about yes, yes. Which was a great moment. I'd love to do that, but it was a way for me to like start digging into these people's minds and like, okay, if I can start thinking in a way like this or understand how people think, you know, maybe then I can find a meaning, a purpose in my life, which I was not feeling at that time.

See, I hope that kind of answers your question.

[00:15:33] Keith Richardson: No it does. And I think it's, it's reflective of the fact that if we choose to be more productive at our listening, we can become a better listener. And we don't, we don't have to default to whether or not we're good at it or not. You can just kind of fall on the sword and say, man, oh, well maybe, maybe next time it is very much an intentional skill that we can all get better at.

Some of us have a faster starting place, right? Like with every skill, you know, some people are just faster, you know, you can get faster, but you're never going to beat Usain bolt, but you can still be faster, you know? So we all, we all have those different skills.

[00:16:20] Brandon Stover: Curious for you guys, how podcasting has helped you guys in the department of becoming a better.

[00:16:28] Keith Richardson: Since, since you were staring off into the sun with the reflective pause, pontificating, look, I had to I'm defaulting to you first. So I'll say it hasn't,

[00:16:38] Rodney Campbell: hasn't like, cause there's podcasts mug for me. So like when I'm in the podcast, like I'm a great listener. And then that also depletes some of my energy for listening certain days.

Plus like people assume I wouldn't be listening because I'm a pocket cause I do this. And so it's like, I get credit for it. Even if I'm not doing. And so I think conversations like this, w I think the biggest thing I've gotten is tips from people for what's worked for them. That an I can, that can just, there, they serve as point in time reminders, because that's really easy to think for me that I, that I figured it out.

I'm good. I got this. And then me and my wife have a fight and it's like, oh, wait, crap. I wasn't listening. Or I didn't really get her perspective. So it's just like a good reason.

[00:17:31] Keith Richardson: Yeah. And I think for me, similar to you, Brandon, in my journey of, of just listening, because of fear of putting myself out there and just hearing and then saying I'm an introvert.

So I'm just going to sit back and listen. And really what that came down to is I just didn't want to say what needed to be said or what, you know, thought, but that has also allowed me to hone my listening skills. The, um, podcast has really enabled. Early days, let's backtrack to 150 episodes ago. Rodney used to introduce himself as a, as a monkey brain holding a plate of drugs in a bottle of alcohol, because he would bounce all over the place.

And my monkey mind, that's what I said. I want to reiterate. And

[00:18:30] Rodney Campbell: some people will just do, when you said play the drugs and my wife went, what's this going to be?

[00:18:34] Keith Richardson: Right? And so we didn't have a time limit on our recording. And we were editing down to an hour. And my responsibility in our, in the podcast was to find the through line and maintain that for our listeners.

And so that really pushed me early to listen because at first I'd resist Rodney, and then I had to just accept it because it, it added value to the conversation in the space that we were creating. And if I was trying to put my thumb on the scale, it would all over. It would maybe influence the ability to have a good, solid, honest conversation.

So the podcast has really forced to it's it's created an opportunity for me to, to, like you said, hear what is being said. So I can ask a question for clarity for deeper insight. Now I, 100% agree with Rodney and Brandon. I'm curious if you find this to be similar. Podcasting is an amazing outlet, but it is podcast mode.

So it's like, we're all on the same page. We all have the same set of expectations. We've established our boundaries. We know what we're in for, but in day-to-day life, those boundaries aren't established, the expectations aren't necessarily clear. And so it all gets muddled, especially at home, more at home than anywhere.

Right. And it becomes a bigger challenge. So I'm actually working hard now to try to, to move the skillset. And, and actively apply it, like, okay, if I would do this on a podcast, let me do it here and, and, and, and go from there. But it's really, really hard. How about you, like, have you seen something similar in your podcast?

[00:20:28] Brandon Stover: Yeah, I think, you know, one of the things for me is when I'm in a conversation with someone else, I'm often trying to dig for those deeper insights. And that is whether it's in day-to-day life or on the podcast. And I that's the one skillset that I've seen that has transferred is that curiosity and still trying to figure out like, who is this person on a deeper level?

I'm not one for small talk. I want to have a deeper conversation with people, which I love podcasts for, because, you know, we can sit down for an hour and a half. We can go pretty deep, you know, at the beginning is usually getting warm. And then by the middle, we're getting into some meaty stuff. And I wish I had more of those conversations in day-to-day life.

I think podcasting allows. The bubble or sanctuary, if you will, that allows that time and space. We know we're here dedicated to have a conversation. We have this time set aside. So we're going to have to go pass small talk. Um, we're in a day to day conversation. It's real easy for people to just, here's a little bit of information I need to give you and then check out.

So I would like to actually, yeah, take some of the skills maybe of podcasting in that space and be able to more. I'm authentically out in real, everyday life.

[00:21:44] Keith Richardson: My sister-in-law said to me recently, she's like one of the things she goes, you know, when I'm having a conversation with you, I feel like you're hearing into my soul.

Like at first we're having this conversation and you're asking good questions and it seems like you're interested. And then all of a sudden I'm like, whoa, where are we going with this? And they get that's one of the things I like about the podcast is that we can do that without, without making anybody else uncomfortable, because they're not necessarily used to the deeper setting of, of, of questions and answering to those things.

[00:22:24] Brandon Stover: Yeah. It a quick, funny story, my wife and I sometimes when we're having breakfast in the morning, I'll start asking pretty big questions. I'm like, why does this happen? Or why is. This way, and I'll start going into something pretty deep. And she's like, you know, it's pretty early in the morning to, to be thinking about all this stuff.

And I was like, okay, you're right. I'll reel it in for this moment.

[00:22:49] Rodney Campbell: That's funny. Yeah. That is a, that was a learning I had with my wife. She's not a morning. Her brain does not kick in in the morning, so I can't go heavy and hard until afternoon. I got it. I got ahold of it.

[00:23:01] Keith Richardson: Yeah. My wife comes at me in the evening and that's when I'm turned off.

And I say, I just not right now. No, I don't. I don't want to, don't want to talk about that. And then we ended up talking about it. So one of the things that you're interested in right now, so thank you for indulging the conversation portion of the conversation, but, uh, that was a really good discussion. And I appreciate it.

One of the things you're most interested in is, is higher education and on your website, which I love your, your, uh, domain evolve, the.world. You share that you grew up in a trailer park with your mom you're poor and ultimately striving for the golden ticket of going, going to college. Now you quote golden ticket, right?

So I immediately have to ask, especially with your interest in higher education and your platform that you're building around, giving people this opportunity to learn about their passions and the things that they're interested in and turn that. Why do you quote the golden ticket?

[00:24:09] Brandon Stover: Sure. Growing up for, and being pushed towards having a better life than we currently had, or that my mom or dad had a growing up.

Getting a college education was always framed as the golden ticket. The quote, unquote, this is the thing that will set you up for success in life. This will take you far fulfill all your wildest dreams and growing up that, that mentality really did push me not having like a father figure around on the day to day.

Having many of my family members ending up in a jail or prison or dying early on when I was young and then growing up, you know, with a single mom, it was like, all of these labels of this person is supposed to fail. And my mom had pushed me that actually you're, you're going to succeed. And so I pushed as hard as I could going all the way through my school career to get to call it.

And was able to successfully do that. Got a, bachelor's got a master's graduated, had fulfilled, you know, what my mom had wanted for me, and then went to go get my first job in the career that I had chosen, um, which was architecture. I worked in architecture for about three years and found myself very miserable, very depressed, realizing that the work that I was doing was not actually having the impact in the world that I wanted to make.

I looked at architecture at the time because we spend so much time within buildings, within spaces. They're always a part of your life. And so I was trying to figure out like, well, how could I maybe design that world to better improve people's lives? When I got actually working that wasn't what I was doing at all.

I was drawing lines on a computer for buildings that, you know, where your strip malls and things like that. And I was like, okay, I'm not actually having the impact that I want to make. And there was a time my, I was working in a firm and I sat next to three of the head partners of the firm. And I could hear them picking up the phone day after day and the problems that they were having.

And I could see the emotions and the faces that they were having. And I had a moment of like looking at myself and looking at them and I was like, okay, in 2030 years, you're going to be sitting in that seat. Is that exactly where you want to sit? And that answer was no. And so I had basically left architecture to find something for myself that would fulfill the original drive that I had to make the world a better place and was looking over my life.

And seeing that, although education had brought me to this golden ticket era, it was still something that fundamentally transformed me and made my life better. And I wanted to be able to give that to other people, but I knew that it couldn't just be what society was going to tell you. You should go learn what your parents tell you, you should go learn.

You know what, you know, the best jobs are out there. It has to be something that you are truly passionate about. Otherwise. I mean, what's the point?

[00:27:36] Keith Richardson: No, that's so, and it's funny because you know, we talk a lot about assumptions and when I read that, I'm thinking, okay, Well, I accrued a bunch of student debt.

I didn't make a bunch of money coming out of college. So this golden ticket really wasn't a golden ticket in any way, but that's not what I'm hearing. What I'm hearing is the golden ticket. It may be fruitful financially, but it may be depleting. Personally or emotionally and thus isn't really, it's more like a, a rusty ticket, right?

Like it gets me into the theater, but I don't want to watch this movie. And here I am stuck. So, but

[00:28:24] Rodney Campbell: how did you, so how did you become so aligned with your impact you want to make? Cause I, cause I think that sounds like a thing that allowed you to step away and to even ask yourself a question, like, do I want to sit in that seat in 20 or 30 years?

Because I look at myself and when I started in, in corporate world, I'm like, yeah, yeah, I want that. I wanted nothing to do with it, but that's what I was told I should want. And I bought it. So as far as I knew, he was mine asking questions like that come much later. So that. Yeah. So how, how the, how did you become so aligned to your impact or the impact to you wish to

[00:29:07] Keith Richardson: have

[00:29:09] Brandon Stover: part of it?

Somebody that spends a joy spending time alone thinking to myself, you know, grew up as an only child. And so I spent a lot of time alone. And so there was always been that open door conversation to myself. The other thing that happened growing up, I had seen my dad try and take his life when I was younger reaching a very depressive point growing up, my mom is a single mom who was also very much a struggle, seen her many times become very depressive.

And so when I reached that stage, when I was working, I mean, A few times, like driving home from the office and I was crying in the car. I was like, this, this is terrible. I knew that if I didn't find something now that when I'm driving home, that I'm not elated about doing, and I'm not talking about, you know, happiness of, you know, always being happy or chasing happiness, but more fulfillment.

If I'm not feeling that fulfillment, there's a, there's a chance that I could end up in is the same depression, a spot that, you know, my parents were when I was younger and I didn't want that. Uh, I started sort of down a path of looking into entrepreneurship and like development. And one of the first books I read was Tim Ferriss's four hour work week because I was working in a job that I hated.

And I was like, yeah, four hours a week. Sounds great. I was reading that and it just kind of started like spiraling into a bunch of other books. And I started like Googling lists of, you know, what's the best entrepreneurship or self-development books. And you get the regular list of like Stephen Covey's seven habits of highly effective people or how to win friends and influence people.

I'm just started reading through those, but eventually bringing up the book that I had mentioned before, uh, Viktor Frankl's man's search for meaning had read that. And one of the things that stood out to me in that book was when they're in the concentration camp and he's looking at his fellow prisoners that are there with him, he can see the hope will leave their eyes, the light, leave their eyes, and he can guess, you know, within the next two to three days, That they're done.

They, they have checked out and that they die. They're in the prison camp because they lost hope. The last meaning. And I reflected at that in my own life. I was like, okay, if I keep down this path and I keep losing meaning, and I just chugged through this, is that what happens to me? Do I just check out?

And so I had to start turning that around. I basically went trying to figure out yet what is meaningful to me? What would give me purpose in life? What would help me wake up every morning enjoying to do this? One of the things my mom used to say, when we were younger, she would get so burnt out, like going to work.

She worked 40, 50 hours a week and she would jokingly, but also with like a tear in her eye, basically say what you go for work to work for me tomorrow. No, I can't do that for you. Then it was a joke, but it was also like painful at the time because it was like, you are providing. You know, you're going to work every day to provide for me so that I can get this golden ticket, but you hate doing it or it's burning you out.

It's terrible.

[00:32:35] Keith Richardson: Well, thank you for sharing all of that as well. And I Al add context, I'm curious to know what role fear plays in your decisions, your intentionality, the, all of these things that you've, you've taken NIC Rodney's head shakes. So we can say at the twin brain moment,

[00:32:59] Brandon Stover: I guess fear comes up sort of in, in different ways than different thoughts.

You know, one is originally was it, is this the right. Because I did try a dozen different other things as an entrepreneur does, like, oh, maybe, maybe it's this thing. And you know, doing like little e-commerce websites, doing marketing and like sales funnel builds for people do freelancing, doing design, trying to use some of the skills that I had spent quite a bit of money on an education for and finding that, yeah, those weren't the right things.

And so I was like, okay, well now there's fear about, was it a good idea to quit? Was it, am I going to actually succeed at any of this that has subsided? The more that I found, what purpose I wanted to have and focusing on this mission of education, because I believe in it so much and that kind of subsides, but now it's more of getting the idea out there.

Yeah, because it is part of like, tied so much to my identity, the story that I've told myself about what's going on. So not only am I putting this idea out there, which actually isn't so hard for me, but it's putting the identity identity piece out there as.

[00:34:15] Keith Richardson: So like in your story, there's a, there's this interesting trail and maybe missing some points.

So certainly correct me if I'm wrong. Many of us kind of fall into one of two buckets when it comes to fear, it's fear of not having or failing or breaking or making the wrong decision. So we stay that safe course. Right. Which I can say was a big contributor to me not taking risks early. It's well, I know this will work, right.

Even though I really don't know it's going to work. And yet you put that intentionality because the core of who you are will embrace it and go, and you know, all of a sudden, you're just afraid to, to not achieve, pay off your loans and do all of those things. But then there's that other side. And I think about this from like a health and fitness down.

My one half of my family is extremely heavy. Right. And I have. I watched that over my lifetime. And it has been a pure motivator for me to exercise. Now I'm not always exercising, but it's always in the back of my mind that I will not be that when I'm 60, 70, 80. And I, and I hear that in your story. And I find that to be such an interesting motivator in so many people that do pursue their passion or their thing that they love, because it's like, I don't want to go back there.

I don't want to, I D it's like hitting rock bottom is such a trigger to, for people to, to move forward because I never want to be there again. And I hear that in your story with, with your mom and, and wonder how much does. Fear of, of being in that space, drive you to not make that like it is overrides any fear of like making the wrong message.

[00:36:27] Brandon Stover: Yeah. I would definitely say that starting off, that was a huge driver that fear of ending up in that place or going back to that, that way of life. The more that I get into this, the other side of it, that the more positive aspects of driving of making an impact, helping other people change their lives.

And I don't mean that as a cliche thing. I mean, every step that I take, you know, as you do a start up or as you're an entrepreneur, you often do an MVP or a small batch of something you work with. Just a few people. I've started doing that with a few of the educational things that I've done in the past, but also running a small beta right now in the startup that'll launch and seeing the impact that this actually makes in another person's life.

Is amazing. That's such a great feeling and to be able to move towards that more now than the running away of going from that place is wonderful. I don't, I try and not label either one as better than the other and try and use them both as energy, you know, there's days that you get up and it's like, you know what, maybe a little of the negative fear energy is going to help push me today.

Other days it's like, yeah, let's look at the light. Let's see where we're going. More positive aspects. So I try and use both of them.

[00:37:42] Keith Richardson: I absolutely love that. I'm curious in the educated, like, as you build out this platform, people see this, right? Like, and I'm thinking about this from my own perspective. If I had found it 20 years ago, like, yes, this sounds great.

How do you help people? See the light through this thing that they might not actually see a path forward because it goes against their traditional understanding of what will work and thus stemming that fear. So this becomes beneficial for them.

[00:38:24] Brandon Stover: Yeah. One of the big problems with education that I seen going through it myself, it's like you get there and you have to pick a degree and you pick that degree out of a hundred different things.

Maybe your parents told you that was a good job to get. Maybe you're like, oh, this will make me the most money. That's the best school at this college. At the current time, I'm going to meet a bunch of cute girls here. I'm going to, it's going to be great for partying all this stuff that really isn't going to help you as you move down later through life.

And so one of the things that I'm starting with is going through a discovery, a coach. Um, with those people so that we can start to unravel some of those layers that aren't necessarily you and get to those real things that you care about. Some of the passions that you have, that some of the skills that you are really good at.

And then on my own journey to look for purpose, I realized that it's not just about me. I, you know, I live in this world. I live in this society and if I can combine, you know what, I have a passion for something that I find important with an actual need that's happening in the world, a way that lifts me up, lifts those other people up.

And oftentimes you get rewarded for that. If we look at those because you know, money and those other things, there's still motivators. We still need them.

[00:39:43] Rodney Campbell: Then you have a business if you have it.

[00:39:46] Brandon Stover: Yeah, exactly. So helping these people to identify, okay, what are the things that you actually care about? Not what everybody else has told you you should care about.

And then how do we combine that with stuff that the world actually. And I think that's a good formula for success,

[00:40:02] Rodney Campbell: somewhat stages D for me. Can you tell us a little bit more, still curious where you are with this project and you, you of gave us a little bit about how you're seeing some success in beta beta, beta, or alpha

[00:40:19] Brandon Stover: beta.

It's technically an alpha. Yes. I just use beta more often. Most people don't know what an alpha is, more

[00:40:25] Keith Richardson: colloquial it's, it's more commonly understood,

[00:40:30] Rodney Campbell: uh, but missing seeing some success. So I'd be curious to learn a little bit more about it. And then as you're talking about it, like how that, where, where you pull the meaning out of it for years.

And how it, how purpose fits in that for you, because I think this is a really, you seem to have, you have a very clear understanding of it for yourself. And I think hearing somebody talk about it could be helpful. I mean, for me, frankly, but for others

[00:41:01] Brandon Stover: as well. Yeah. Um, so right now they're currently running the alpha and, um, originally started with three students and, uh, was doing a three month basically program with it just as a test run to see how do some of these things that I've been studying in the science of learning and education work.

And then could we actually get the outcomes that we set forward between me and the students? You know, what were their goals coming in? Can we reach those towards the end, going through this sort of process? So we started with three students and we're down to one. Um, just things happened. Health went bad on one of the students and, um, one of them was not able to go through the full program, which is an interesting story of like, is that enough, uh, people to figure this out?

Is it enough for me to validate it, um, to go forward with a full solution of this, but I have been working with him. He is a freelance UX designer and he's building a community around designers that focus on not just the design principles, but also the mental health side of designers. And so that kind of brings in, you know, what, he's very passionate and focused on his skill sets, but also I changed that he wants to make in the world bringing better mental health to these people because he had his own journey of mental health and working as a designer.

And so, uh, I've been working with him and basically the way it works. We figure out that goal, what it is that you want to do to study, and then building the curriculum from that. So figuring out what skills that he already has that's would help to reach that mission. And which ones does he not have? And from the ones that he doesn't have, then I go out.

So I go find resources learning from those, because I believe some of the best education has already been put out on the internet. It has a wide place, whether it's through actual professors or whether through people that have done freelance courses or even YouTube or a podcast, we can find these things.

So going, finding those Reese's sources for him, having him learn them and then helping him to apply those learnings and those skills. And then we evaluate, okay. And you set out at the beginning to build this community, um, to help change, you know, a designer's mental health. Are you actually using. That solution, if you're not okay, then readjust, that's fine.

Goes some skills to help you to do that. If you are well, isn't that great that we found the resources to do that we didn't have to go to college, go through a four-year degree for you to start figuring out are you actually solving that problem yet?

[00:43:49] Keith Richardson: Wow. Now what is two planes? I'm going to go in first just-in-time education.


[00:43:59] Brandon Stover: And you know, one more element of that is this isn't about the amount of time of button see hours, but more of did you actually learn this? Did you master this skill and disability and this knowledge? So that's what we're we're testing for. If we're testing anything in the full version of this, there isn't a time limit that just takes them as long as it does.

Learn those skills. And then they're submitting portfolio projects. They're working on real solutions and that's how they're evaluated, whether they're actually gaining this knowledge or not.

[00:44:34] Rodney Campbell: Wouldn't that be? I mean, that's, that's phenomenal. That's yes. Time on task helps with anything. However, the time that I rest, the time that you need for semi keep me, is going to vary for all kinds of different reasons.

Yet the system that we currently have says, we all need the same amount of time and it does attempt to evaluate, but no ma so that's,

[00:45:03] Keith Richardson: that's pretty cool. There's this? Um, I think this is such a fascinating concept and I, I'm curious to get an idea of how you envision. Working through people and what the future looks like.

So take an example. Someone comes in like yourself or myself who has a traditional mindset, like going down the traditional path. Isn't just about earning money. It's also gaining perceived security, right. And by perceived know, the things are only as secure as they are, but at least it gives us that feeling that, okay, I'm good for the next 30 years I've started my 401k.

I've got everything set up and in the entrepreneurship thing, and this is something that I haven't reached that point personally yet, but know it's coming. And I think about it a lot. You hear people who's like, yeah, like I loved that idea. We took it as far as we could take it. And then. Now we moved on or we did something new or we boxed the trend of that security long-term mindset.

And I'd say a lot of people aren't necessarily prepared for it right there. That is not something that either they can make the decision around or that it's all of a sudden, it's like, oh, Brandon told me this would be great. And I loved it, but now I don't love it anymore. It's work. And it's this, like, do you have a path, a plan, a vision to help people with that?

Have you thought about it? I'm curious to get your take.

[00:46:44] Brandon Stover: Yes. So obviously I reached that in my own journey. Uh, you know, here's the traditional path and I went through it and this didn't work out. And now what the hell do I do?

[00:46:54] Rodney Campbell: So I think the actually super quick before you answer, I think this is important.

I don't, I don't normally ask this question, but how

[00:46:58] Brandon Stover: are you? I'm 27.

[00:47:01] Rodney Campbell: Okay. I think that's super important because you've gone through what some people go through in an entire life. Like they get to a point really late, and then they're like, ah, I'm going to do something different now. And they're like

[00:47:15] Keith Richardson: six

[00:47:17] Rodney Campbell: at night.

I just wanted to have

[00:47:20] Brandon Stover: that context. Yeah. And I think that's an important point. Yes, I've done that. But I also feel like in my generation of millennials and even in gen Z, it's happening a lot faster. We, you know, if we just look at it from a career spec perspective, we're changing careers constantly. I went to school for architecture.

Uh, now I do podcasting. I'm building in higher education. I've done marketing, I've done a million different things because none of them are like this set career that I don't think that exists much anymore. But getting back to your question. When they go through this educational experience, I don't expect them to follow this one thing forever.

They're like, okay. Yes, this is my purpose. This is my passion. I'm going to do this forever. Maybe that happens. And if that does, that's fantastic. But also other things come up in life. Um, whether you are just changing phases of your life, maybe you have kids, you move, you are changing careers. The environment changes that, you know, job markets, uh, we have things like COVID happen or you just reach a new perspective of you.

You're always changing. And that's where I believe education is something that's not done one and done, but continuous keeps ongoing. Um, I know for myself, I am continuously always reading. I'm taking different courses currently right now I'm doing Coursera is like a Google UX design course, but also listening to podcasts, like constantly, always learning myself.

And I think that as people reach these different stages in life, they're going to be like, okay, let's reevaluate. Maybe this is the actual purpose that I have. Now, what skills looking back now at a hard level, what skills do I have that could help me to fulfill that purpose? And which ones do I need to all of a sudden change out or re-skill things have updated.

And so they could come back, basically lock back into this process and not have to take all the old stuff. You know, you're not going through another four year college degree because you've already done that once. So now maybe you only need to go up with a couple of different skills. And so you do two or three months of this and then go back out.

Try and fulfill your purpose, looking at that mission. What's my mission or the skills going to help me to solve that and keep going through that process through your entire light. You know, I don't

[00:49:43] Rodney Campbell: know that your solution has to account for that person who doesn't think that it's valid to move in the way that you move because generationally like my parents and their parents, they, aside from other things, like they could probably have one job for all over most of their life and actually be financially set for Keith.

And I probably, maybe like there's there's who knows, like for where we are in the millennial ish ask not be really even having a generation, but then for millennials and gen Xers, they've gone through seeing. They're siblings or themselves, or you may have exposed, you didn't experience this yourself, but you probably saw friends that couldn't get a job after going to college.

And I was like, wait a second. Like, this was supposed to be the thing. That's all was it. Or they get there like you and it doesn't solve it. It's like, I hate this. I'm miserable. Why would I waste my life doing a thing that I hate, or it doesn't align with my mission and my purpose. I think that's a better way.

It's saying the thing I hate. And so, you know, I think a lot of people I've done it. I don't do it anymore, but I I've done it. And I've seen people in my class look out and say, oh, like they're so they have no focus. They have no attention because I know they have Supreme focus on themselves on, on being intentional on, on a mission.

And that may look different today and tomorrow because yet Google UX today. Coding tomorrow when it's marketing and social influence in here, but it's a skill set that skillsets that prepare you for this world, which by the way, AI jumping up all over the place McDonald's may not need people much longer.

Pizza is already automating making pizza. So it's like, I got to find ways to be viable at the, at the drop of a hat. So I think it's a, I think what, you're, what you're, you're, you're like formalizing the informal education and saying like, and, and even challenging, at least this is my perception, even challenging.

Like, what is education? Is it, you know, are we talking about applied knowledge? Are we talking about knowledge for knowledge sake? Like, what is it that we're trying to get to here?

[00:52:04] Brandon Stover: And why? Yeah. This also brings up a question of like, when employers are looking at the degree, what is this signaling signaling that they actually know these skills and that they can apply them in my business or in my corporation or.

Signal that they could sit for four years listening to something and have enough discipline to get through that, which is also a good skill set. Don't get me wrong, but it feels like that that's the only one they're measuring. What we're trying to do here is look at it like businesses, your life and things in society.

Something that they all have in common is they're going to have problems that consistently come up and you're going to need to figure out how to solve those. It's going to take skills. You actually be willing to do something, to be able to solve those problems where you learn those skills. I don't think is as important as you being able to apply those skills to solve the problem.

Whether I learned them sitting in a classroom from a professor, or I learned it on a job, or I learned it from my mom, it really doesn't matter because I can apply those skills. I can solve the problem and we move forward as a system.

[00:53:16] Rodney Campbell: How just on that rug, how ironic is it that apple and Microsoft on their resumes required college degree?

When the people that founded them said that actually is not helpful for making this thing that has been transformative to the world.

How far have we come from our,

[00:53:40] Keith Richardson: to the, the nature of living. Living in or living for, right. Like we live in this thing that is given to us or we live for it. And by living forward, you're, you're solving like that is the absolute basis of contribution to society. Right. Is coming up with a solution to a problem that serves a hundred people or a billion people.

Right. And isn't it. Isn't that ultimately what we want, when we say, man, people don't want to work. It's like, well, what are they working for? They're working to contribute to the economy. Cool, but where are they working to help solve a problem? And I mean, I think this is fantastic and I'm very curious, because I hear like today with COVID you mentioned it in this shift in perspective that restaurant workers have for their jobs and you know, how they go to work and where they go and really taking this opportunity to evaluate that at their great solution here.

Um, um, as you build it, what's the scale, uh, measure in the vision look like for

[00:54:48] Brandon Stover: you? What scale would I like to reach with this education? Like how many people know, how,

[00:54:53] Keith Richardson: how are you envisioning scaling it? I mean, right now, alpha is you working on this? Right? And that, that certainly won't won't scale.

[00:55:03] Brandon Stover: Yes.

So it will be, uh, an online university. So that takes the first barrier of scale out and then working on. Platform that houses, these resources that we pull from the web, you know, open education resources and bringing that at an affordable price, because we don't have a campus because we aren't hiring a ton of faculty or, you know, tenured professors.

What we're doing is having coaches and learning instructors, people that have studied through the science of learning, but aren't necessarily, you know, done a full PhD, not brings costs down. And so what I'm hoping to do, and I've seen this with a few other universities is offer a monthly tuition rather than if it's huge, uh, upfront cost.

So something closer to $120 a month, because again, we're not measuring a button. We're measuring, you know, when do you actually learn these skills? When can you apply them? When are you solving problems that may take a month that may take two years to learn these skills. We want to be able for you to vary in that.

We also want you to be able to take a pause when you need to life happens. You know, you're going to have kids, you need to, you're working a full-time job or whatever. I don't want to hold you back from being able to complete your education because those things come up. So I'm trying to make it more accessible, scalable that's way.

Then it will be focusing on trying to integrate this in other cities, you know, we're starting, we'll start within the U S but scaling it to other countries and trying to get in those communities by having, uh, like learning hubs, using existing buildings where people can meet actually in community. And in the beginning, this won't be all online, but I do foresee as something in the future.

If it's still having a physical app, You know, when I went to college, there are still things from tradition, from the traditional route that are very, very helpful. I grew as a person, a lot from my in-person interactions, I call it. So that is still something that is a downside of online education now. But, uh, with this integration, I think will help in the future.

[00:57:19] Rodney Campbell: You can't do a kickstand online.

[00:57:24] Keith Richardson: He can't, you can't live on your own and do all those independent things that you learned and

[00:57:30] Rodney Campbell: paid bills. And so Keith kinda started to bring up kind of this paradigm shift that's happened for you. You brought it up earlier and then Keith just brought up again kind of paradigm shift that's happening.

It's been happening for a long time. They COVID, I think just if, either forced and or allow, I think it depends on the person

[00:57:48] Brandon Stover: too. I think it's sped up. Going to happen. Yeah.

[00:57:53] Rodney Campbell: Yeah. Completely. Yeah. That's a better way to say it. And so now, especially these younger generations, we were just talking about. So your time being is impact.

Like the world needs back to what we were talking about. Like the world needs, what you offer right now. How do you characterize what has been happening and what is happening now? I say in one of my companies, I've been hiring people in, like, I listened to all these other owners who are saying, I can't hire anybody it's not possible.

And I don't think that's true. I think I just have a different way of going about it, but like, how do you characterize this period? I call it a paradigm shift because I think it's fun to say, but what do you call it with you?

[00:58:43] Brandon Stover: In what frame of reference are you asking? How I care. In terms of education in terms of what's

[00:58:49] Rodney Campbell: happening to education and how that's affecting

[00:58:56] Keith Richardson: employee,

[00:58:56] Rodney Campbell: employer relationships, and like employers finding employees, employees, finding employers, employment, employees, even caring to be employees where they can go figure it out by working five jobs that they want when they want.

[00:59:11] Brandon Stover: Yeah. Well, first I think, you know, your comments about being very much in the time of like, this is something that should happen now because of the problems that we're having. Uh, you know, I've been looking at education at least for the last two or three years. And so with any buddy that's building something when they come to market and we're like, finally put it out.

They probably have been thinking about it for a while before the problem was that. Aware to everybody else. But I think with employers now, uh, you know, you mentioning that they can't find the people that they need with these certain skillsets is we don't have a good direct way of people showcasing what skills that they have.

Being able to talk about that regardless of, you know, what for education that they had. And so right now employers look at a degree and say, okay, they got a computer science degree. So I guess that they can do this. And I came from Stanford. So I guess that means they must be really good at it. Yeah. But I think if we have a better way to showcase what skills that you have in your ability to do those sorts of things, it will be easier for employers to quickly identify.

Okay. Yes. This is a. That can do what I need done to solve the problems I have in this business without even having to look at what, where did they learn these skills? I think, you know, things that we'll focus on is having a portfolio, having a, what I call it like a skill resume that breaks down what skills do I actually have.

And then what's the evidence that you can say that you have those skills and that's where the portfolios, the projects, those sorts of things come in, so they can start identifying. Okay. Yes. They've kind of solved this problem before, uh, in a different project. They did, maybe there'll be able to solve it here in my business.

So I think it's going to shift more that's way. It's going to be a slow shift just because of how easy it is now to get in, you know, a hundred resumes when you put up a job on this thing and then go through and like, yep. They got a degree for this. They're probably good. We'll evaluate them once they get in for the interview or, you know, once they're actually working here,

[01:01:19] Keith Richardson: there's this.

Interesting. And I will say interesting component to what you're saying is organizations will see that you have a computer science degree from Stanford to your point about what they're evaluating. They're really evaluating that you could get a computer science degree from Stanford, because at the end of the day, your first six months to a year is going to be training, right?

It's going to be real-world training. It's going to be all of these things. And you're kind of in there with some expectations, but not a whole lot. And as an organization, and this is a shift of talent acquisition, and we've talked to a couple of people on this. With having this portfolio. One question that's often asked is, well, give me an example of when you did this.

Well, now we actually have examples, so that onboarding, that ramp could drastically reduce. And if I spend just a little more time hiring and selecting based on this type of evaluation criteria, I can find a person who is going to ramp in less time and it's going to cost me so much less money and actually be better for my business in the longterm, super and insightful paradigm shift from the educational standpoint that you're taking.

And I think it's fascinating and I want to promote it and support it as much as we can

[01:02:45] Rodney Campbell: thinking about the avenues that you have for potential sources of revenue or income, like the client themselves, but then they employ. That's a highly, that think of a lot of places that will pay for that.

[01:03:00] Brandon Stover: Um, yeah. And it's something that I definitely want to incorporate is this education to job pipeline that, you know, from the student's perspective, we can start guaranteeing you a job at the end of this, where a regular degree can't because we are training the skills that the employer need.

On the employer side, we are verifying that these students actually have these skills because we've told, you know, work with you along the way, what skills do you need? Okay. And what kind of projects and problems show up in those businesses. Now I'm going to have the students actually try and solve problems like that as they learn.

And you're going to have direct evidence that they could do that.

[01:03:39] Keith Richardson: Where can people find you and find opportunities to learn more about this?

[01:03:47] Brandon Stover: Yes, social media, the best place is LinkedIn, Brandon Stover, and then define anything else about me. Uh, Brandon stover.com. You'll be able to find the podcast and the university, uh, when it has its full launch, uh, up and ready.

Those will be the best places. One

[01:04:05] Keith Richardson: quick question. If you don't mind, one quick question. Do you have a, an estimated timeframe of when you'll be in beta or full launch?

[01:04:16] Brandon Stover: Yes, I am doing currently, um, a landing page tests, small MVP to see what's the ask for this is for, from the market and taking that, looking for co-founders, you know, an academic officer and somebody that's possibly built startups before, um, to help compliment the skillsets that I do not have.

And then hoping that with those launching towards the end of this year, a beta program. Um, the full vision of it

[01:04:47] Rodney Campbell: and MTP being minimum viable product. Yes. Most valuable player.

[01:04:54] Brandon Stover: Hopefully it is the most valuable player also.

[01:04:57] Rodney Campbell: True. Uh, but man, this has been your, like your thoughtfulness is I've, I've noticed since, since the very first conversation, but you're very thoughtful and, um, this is really exciting, very exciting.

And. You're like, you're like super calm and like chill about it, but like, it's a big deal. It's

[01:05:18] Keith Richardson: really exciting. As I build my five to nine for my girls and, and realized I might end up sending them to your university and it will save me a lot of money and they can

[01:05:29] Rodney Campbell: start their first business, buy their first home, man, just thank you for coming on and thank you for spending some time with us sharing some, some heavy stuff, deep stuff.

And the last question is always, what does compassion mean to

[01:05:47] Brandon Stover: you? I think compassion means it's in one of the Eastern philosophies. They talk about compassion being the ability to suffer with another person and not in the terms of coming down to their level. Yeah. Suffering the same way that they are.

Let's take, for example, you know, a man comes to you and he lost his leg. We're not asking you to suffer with him by cutting off your own leg. But we're asking you to do, is to understand where he's coming from with that experience of having no leg and to, to be able to sit in that space, have an understanding of the emotions, have an understanding of the perspective and then help him and yourself working together to better his life, to better your own life to get out of that suffering.

I think that's where compassion is, is to have that understanding and then move forward to relieve that suffering.

Thank you for listening to the evolve. Podcasts links to everything we discussed today are available in the show. Notes. Transcripts are also available in the show notes and everything can be viewed on our website at evolve. The doc world that's evolve the.world.

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