How To Close The Gap Between Education & Employment

Featuring Guest -
Jordan Levy
February 18, 2020
| Evolve
028
hosted by: Brandon Stover
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Jordan Levy is Forbes 30 under 30 serial education technology entrepreneur who believes we should get out from behind the textbook and expose students to new circumstances, with real stakeholders, real challenges, real collaboration, and of course real outcomes. His weapon of choice was to start not one but two highly successful EdTech companies that help higher-ed programs bridge the skills gap for their students through experiential learning. His company, Capsource, helps educators match with companies and design projects based on narrow academic requirements.

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Books Mentioned:

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Capsource | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

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After graduating with a Accounting and Finance degree you quickly realized that your time spent in college did not prepare you for the real world and did clue you into what you should expect. Tell me about that feeling you had when first graduating college?

Now during your Entrepreneurship 312 class in college you and 2 other buddies started Real Time Cases, as a way to innovate the case methodology invented by Harvard Business School over 100 years ago.  What was it like to create an Edtech startup while in college?

In 2017, you transitioned to starting Capsource. Why go off and start a new company?

Why are you so passionate about connecting students with these real world learning experiences in organizations?

With Capsource you are combining case theory with consulting theory because while cases are a great way to learn they don't anchor to the current world and hard to transfer insights. How does Capsource combine cases with consulting?

What are the benefits to each of the parties? The students, the businesses, and the colleges?

By dealing with real experiences, students start learning applicable business skills that companies are looking for which help the vetting process for hireable talent. In fact you have even found employee through your own programs. How has this been beneficial for companies?

How do you approach businesses and identify the problems they need solved in order to create these real world learning experiences?

What other lessons have you learned about that you would pass on to early stage Edtech Founders?

What has been the value for you to go through edtech startup accelerators?

What books or resources have been fundamental for your understanding of combining the case theory and consulting theory models together?

What do you think the value of college is for helping students to identify who they really are and what there passions are, not what their parents or society has told them to be?

You went to college and became a serial entrepreneur. How did education serve you as an entrepreneur? If you could go back in time, would you still go to college or start out as an entrepreneur?

You had a rich Jewish upbringing and in 2017 you took an educational trip to Israel which opened your eyes to producing real impact. What values from Jewish tradition have shaped your thinking as an entrepreneur?

Working in edtech you must have a high value in learning and have said that people should stay curious, ask more questions, and relentlessly keep learning. How do you approach learning in your life now?

Your companies have focused heavily on connecting students to real challenges with real outcomes. What responsibility does colleges have for preparing students for real challenges not just in businesses, but also challenges at a global scale?

How could we facilitate these global challenge experiential learning experiences?

What do you think the role of education will be in the ever evolving workforce of the future?

How we can push the world to Evolve.

Finding your passion, identifying what gets you energized, and working with people who are similarly passionate to help the issue you want to solve to be a mainstream possibility.
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How To Close The Gap Between Education & Employment

Featuring Guest -

Jordan Levy

hosted by: Brandon Stover
028

February 18, 2020

Jordan Levy is Forbes 30 under 30 serial education technology entrepreneur who believes we should get out from behind the textbook and expose students to new circumstances, with real stakeholders, real challenges, real collaboration, and of course real outcomes. His weapon of choice was to start not one but two highly successful EdTech companies that help higher-ed programs bridge the skills gap for their students through experiential learning. His company, Capsource, helps educators match with companies and design projects based on narrow academic requirements.

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Scroll to the end of the article for selected links to important resources mentioned in this episode.

After graduating with a Accounting and Finance degree you quickly realized that your time spent in college did not prepare you for the real world and did clue you into what you should expect. Tell me about that feeling you had when first graduating college?

Now during your Entrepreneurship 312 class in college you and 2 other buddies started Real Time Cases, as a way to innovate the case methodology invented by Harvard Business School over 100 years ago.  What was it like to create an Edtech startup while in college?

In 2017, you transitioned to starting Capsource. Why go off and start a new company?

Why are you so passionate about connecting students with these real world learning experiences in organizations?

With Capsource you are combining case theory with consulting theory because while cases are a great way to learn they don't anchor to the current world and hard to transfer insights. How does Capsource combine cases with consulting?

What are the benefits to each of the parties? The students, the businesses, and the colleges?

By dealing with real experiences, students start learning applicable business skills that companies are looking for which help the vetting process for hireable talent. In fact you have even found employee through your own programs. How has this been beneficial for companies?

How do you approach businesses and identify the problems they need solved in order to create these real world learning experiences?

What other lessons have you learned about that you would pass on to early stage Edtech Founders?

What has been the value for you to go through edtech startup accelerators?

What books or resources have been fundamental for your understanding of combining the case theory and consulting theory models together?

What do you think the value of college is for helping students to identify who they really are and what there passions are, not what their parents or society has told them to be?

You went to college and became a serial entrepreneur. How did education serve you as an entrepreneur? If you could go back in time, would you still go to college or start out as an entrepreneur?

You had a rich Jewish upbringing and in 2017 you took an educational trip to Israel which opened your eyes to producing real impact. What values from Jewish tradition have shaped your thinking as an entrepreneur?

Working in edtech you must have a high value in learning and have said that people should stay curious, ask more questions, and relentlessly keep learning. How do you approach learning in your life now?

Your companies have focused heavily on connecting students to real challenges with real outcomes. What responsibility does colleges have for preparing students for real challenges not just in businesses, but also challenges at a global scale?

How could we facilitate these global challenge experiential learning experiences?

What do you think the role of education will be in the ever evolving workforce of the future?

How we can push the world to Evolve.

Finding your passion, identifying what gets you energized, and working with people who are similarly passionate to help the issue you want to solve to be a mainstream possibility.

Selected Links & Resources From This Episode

Books Mentioned:

Coming Soon

Follow The Guest:

Capsource | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Hey everyone, welcome to evolve. Today's guests is a Forbes 30 under 30 serial education technology entrepreneur who believes we should get out from behind the text book and expose students to new circumstances with real stakeholders, real challenges, real collaboration. And of course real outcomes. His weapon of choice was to start not one but two highly successful ed tech companies that help higher ed programs bridge the skill gaps for their students through experiential learning, realizing the shortcomings of his own college education, this eager, visionary, cofounded realtime cases as an undergraduate law high university and set out to reinvent the case study method for the 21st century, leveraging real companies and their current business challenges. The company has raised over 8 million private funding, helped over 30,000 students in 120 different business programs across 20 countries around the globe and 200 of the top universities including Harvard, us air force Academy and university of Michigan eager to truly change education with advance experiential learning.

He went on to found a second ed tech company capsource which helps educators match with companies and design projects based on narrow academic requirements. The results speak for themselves generating over 305,000 in student value. Capsource has leveraged over 200 plus different company partners like rework and door dash to provide in-depth learning experiences. The 3000 plus students at 50 plus different institutions around the globe, including Ford ham, UT Dallas, the university of Illinois, and new Amsterdam. This is Stu well-spoken entrepreneur, has been featured in Forbes, the ed tech shop, old TV, university of business, NextGen and universities across the nation being impact-driven. He is also the alumni leader in community organization for the Schusterman foundation. 2000 plus alumni network of fellow of the Kairos society and an advisor to the human rights organization. Knock-Knock give us sock, which seeks to humanize homelessness. I'm honored to welcome executive director and founder of capsource six year, two time ed tech veteran and a man who probably can makes you a great drink while chatting about Neil deGrasse Tyson. Star talking Jordan Levy.

Wow. I'm honored. Thank you so much for having me here today and I really appreciated you know, the background. I think it's going to provide our listeners with a good, good context as to, you know, where I'm coming from and kind of what excites me to be doing what I'm doing.

Absolutely. Well, where I'd like to start is after you graduated with your accounting and finance degree, you kind of realize that the time you spent in college didn't really prepare you for the real world or kind of clue you into what to expect. So tell me about that feeling you had when you were first graduating college.

Yeah, it's a good question. So I went to Lehigh university, which is in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It's it's kind of, you know, anywhere from like an hour and a half from New York and Philadelphia. So it's, it's kind of a no man's land. It's not really close to either of them. So there's very little to do you know, in and around campus. It's actually known as the, as an old steel mill town. And so, you know, we, we had a great campus community, which, you know, was thriving with Greek life and you know, both co-curricular clubs and organizations. But at the end of the day, there's very little commercial activity area. And there was very little opportunity for us to get out of and kind of shape that, you know, mentality of I'm in school and really start prepping for the real world. And I, I, you know, slowly but surely realized as I was transitioning out of school that I was pretty unprepared for that experience and I really didn't know what to expect from you know, from, from, you know, from an accounting job or a finance job.

And so as I began to, you know, turn over stones and, and, and see what it's like, I, I realized I was really disinterested in that career path and I kind of questioned whether or not the, you know, the accounting and finance degree was a good choice for me because I felt like it wasn't aligned with my career interests. And that was pretty frustrating. So as I began to then broaden my search, I realized that, you know, there's really a lot better way that we could be connecting industry, you know, with our educational programs, you know, at any level of education. It could really start as early as, you know, K-12 and go all the way into, you know, continuing professional development. So that's pretty much what I've dedicated my career to is helping institutions build programs that better integrate companies into the learning process for their students so that they can graduate with real experience and exposure to the real world.

Hmm. And this kind of started for you when you were in your entrepreneurship three 12 class with a couple of buddies starting real time cases. So what was it like to create and start an ed tech startup while in college?

Yeah, so the, so I, I majored in accounting and finance and realized that wasn't for me and the only third thing I was studying was entrepreneurship. So I figured, you know, why not, you know hitch the hitch a ride on that train and see what that was to be like bacon. Ultimately I actually started working on this concept as a junior and I was ideating kind of how could you possibly get, you know, the, the real world more integrated. And the straw that broke the camel's back for me was my internship. I'm going into my senior year at KPMG where, you know, I was doing a rotation in audit and then another rotation and advisory and really didn't like either of them. Mainly because I think it just didn't live up to my expectations of what it would like to, to what it would be like to work at a big four accounting firms.

So so when I was kind of in senior year thinking about, you know, the end of my time at Lehigh I, you know, I really just said, all right, let's try some entrepreneurial stuff and see how this goes. And it was really great. My professor was, you know, pretty clear as to what the objectives were and I was always the type of students that I was like, you tell me how high to jump and I'll jump back to what I need to do to get a good grade and I'll do it. You know, I kind of recognize each one of the class sessions and college was a few hundred bucks if you break down tuition on a class by class basis. So, you know, I really didn't take it for granted. I felt very lucky to be at a private school.

You know, in a, you know, tier one research institution if you will. And so when they told me, Hey, you know the only way you're going to get an a in this class is to make progress on your business. That's what I did. And so, you know, the first thing was figure out like how to build an MVP of our product, which, you know, we were able to get you know, a couple of CEOs to, to, you know, video conference in, into classes. You know, throughout the semester with a bunch of our professors and that was our MVP. And so we were able to make enough progress in that spring semester where by the time I graduated I was really energized by the idea of what we could do if we try to transform classrooms in a way that's a lot more practical and career focused and industry integrated.

And that, you know, obviously had some success. But then in 2017, you transitioned to starting capsules. So why go off and start a new company? That's a good question. I mean we hadn't been working on real time cases for about four years at the time. I think there's so much to be learned in any startup environment. And one of the key things I learned is that you really need to be on the same page with your team. You have to have the same mission and goals and, and, and it's, it's a moving target because everything in the startup environment can change on a whim, you know, yet one big client that could really change the way that you're building your product or, or or how you think about like, you know, scaling customers to a larger size. So we started to really gain traction.

And what we realized was there was a few of our clients that were saying, Hey, you know, this case study method is great. And it's an improvement on, on how we think about case studies as a tool in the classroom, but it's not experiential learning. And so I was like, okay, so then tell me what is experiential learning? And you know, a bunch of our, much of our, you know, prospective clients and current clients were like, you know, it's really about, you know, directly having students work with companies. And like we, we created, you know, an opportunity for students to work with companies through video cases. So it was a little like once removed from from the classroom. And it, you know, it, it just ended up not being enough of a high fidelity experience that the students could then walk away, you know, adding something to the resume and, you know, being able to talk to that on interviews and say, Hey, I actually saw this problem for this specific company and here's someone you could talk to to hear about, you know, their experience working with me. And that's when it kind of dawned on me that there is, there's actually a different way approach and it was a lot more of like a marketplace model where, you know, we would be a broker and find the right types of organizations for the types of programs that are looking for industry to be involved in the education process for the students. And so that's, that's naturally where caps are started and we've evolved quite a bit from there.

Why are you so passionate about connecting students with these real world experiences in organizations?

I, I just, I felt like I didn't have enough of that when I was a student. I had one internship. I mean, it's crazy, but there's a, a book that's, that was published recently that's called intern nation. And basically there's about a million, maybe a million and a half internships that are filled every year, but there's 21 million undergrad and grad students in the United States alone. So there's clearly a lot of students that don't get these formal internship opportunities and then otherwise they just don't have any graduating without any experience. 40% of students according to NACE don't get a single opportunity to engage with a company before they graduate. How are you supposed to have a clue? You know, what your skills are, what skills you want to use, you know, in the, in the workplace how to build the right types of relationships to propel your career and, you know, and ultimately, you know, set yourself up for success, you know, and, and success to some is just paying back the student loans.

So that's really where where I started was, was I was frustrated and you know, I've, I realized that like, you know, Lehigh did the best they could with the resources they had. Like publishers, you know, that's what they do. They, they publish content. But it's not experiential learning. And so I was like, well, what if you could buy, you know, a widget that was experiential learning, would you use it? And enough faculty, you know, at Lehigh and in my network at the time were saying yes to this idea of experiential learning that I thought it would be worth giving it a shot.

Mmm. Well, kind of the magic sauce of cap stories is really combining this case theory with kind of like consulting, because while you know, cases are a great way to learn, they don't really anchor you to this current world and what's going on in it and having that hard transfer of insights between those. So how does cap source combined cases with this consulting?

That's a really good question and I'm, I'm grateful you asked because honestly it's, it's really a combination of, of case and consulting theory. It's consulting in the sense that like there's no right answer. And you're also bringing in a fresh set of eyes, right? So the students have very little context around the real world and they have very little context around the specific business or department that they're working on throughout that project. And then secondarily they are they're really set up as cases because we want to build these, these programs in a way that doesn't require a lot of maintenance from the company side of things. We realized that if you embed students like an internship model directly into an organization, they end up, you know, needing a lot of oversight and management. And that's not really, you know, what a learning experience should be about.

But it should really be about, you know, a kind of secluded but connected research project that the students can do and only work in teams, come up with good ideas, you know, interface, you know, regularly with the client. Maybe an hour or two a week. And then go back to the drawing board and iterate. And I think that's really where the case study method comes into our methodology. We published this thing called the experiential learning framework, which really talks about how students use key universal skills like collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. Some people call those soft skills to develop real outcomes for real stakeholders so that they can walk away with reference worthy work experience. And so it's really a blend of case and consulting theory that kind of brings this whole thing together.

Mmm. What are the benefits for each of the parties? So the students, the businesses and then the colleges?

Yeah, I mean it's set up, our whole business is set up to make the process easier for faculty because at the end of the day, they're at the helm of the ship and you know, they're the ones that are coordinating these learning experiences. They're the ones trying something new in their classroom and there are real client. I think obviously the beneficiary of, of the change that we're making is the student in the classroom that gets this opportunity to learn and apply all of their personal experience and their, you know, theoretical frameworks that they're learning in class, you know, through the traditional studies they get to, to really apply that to a real situation and, you know, really walk away with their head held high saying, wow, like I have skills that are valuable to organizations and, you know, here's an example of how it works, you know, in real time.

Yeah. I think it gives them a lot of confidence to go into the workforce knowing that they have those skills but also

Allows them to maybe get a test run to see if they actually like doing that thing. And if, you know, while they're still oncologists, they don't like doing it, they can transition a lot easier. Yeah. Yeah. I think exactly right. You know, it's all about making the tread transitions easier. There's so many of them throughout your early, early, you know, early development and then you get out to the real world. And it's pretty much all up to you. And so just getting students to feel confident in their abilities to build the right types of relationships, ask the right types of questions find the right types of mentors. And, and you know, I, I always compare it to like swinging from tree to tree. Like you're, you're not always going out to land every single leap, but at the end of the day, understanding, okay, I got to climb back up now and get swinging.

And I learned from, you know, from that MIS like, Hey, here's, here's how to do it more methodically in the future for the businesses because these students are dealing with real experiences. They start learning actual applicable business skills that are really helping with the vetting process for business searching for talent. In fact, you guys have even found a couple of employees through your own programs. So how has this been beneficial to the company? Very well researched. Brandon, I'm very excited that you spent some time doing some pre-work on our model. We're we're so fortunate to have brought on a co founder that actually started by doing a real time case his junior year at the university of Maryland. And then his senior year he did a live case through capsource at the university of Maryland. And then following that live case, he had such a good experience that he actually asked the company that was hosting him at the time, which is a company called Hungary.

They didn't particularly help private chefs find corporate catering opportunities. They're DC-based but actually growing very fast doing about a million dollars a month now, which is some crazy growth since we first worked with them. But and coach got an internship there after he finished his project in class, which, you know, proves out that if the students really, you know, sees the opportunity, there's really a lot more to these learning experiences than, you know, a great at the end of the semester. And then during that internship, asked the CEO, the company that he was working with, Hey, you know, where, where did this whole thing come together? And you know, Shai who's the CEO over there connected him with me. And Kush has been a part of our team now for two and a half years. He's our director of operations. Hungary is about to do their seventh project through capsource recently told us that they've fully eliminated their internship program and are using this as an alternative because it actually is much more structured and much more productive for them. And it still gives them that same feeling of, of getting a fresh set eyes and new talent into the, into the pipeline regularly.

How do you guys approach these businesses and identify the problems that they need solved in order to create these experiences for students?

It all starts actually with the schools, so the schools decide what they're looking for. We, we noticed that, you know, because of the way the academic semester alone is structured you know, no business problems start in January and end in may. Right. But but if you really do, if you, if you, if you define the constraints from the get go, Hey, it needs to be a local business around, you know, South bend, Indiana to work with Notre Dame MBAs or with the case with university of Maryland. They're looking for organizations that are high growth businesses in the, in the DC, Maryland, Virginia regions. There's other programs that we've worked with that are looking for completely remote experiences, but they have to be based on big data and analytics. And so when they decide on these criteria then it gives us a good foundation to go out to these organizations and say, Hey, here's what we're looking for.

Are you interested? And so we found that that's really what creates fluidity and the model is, you know, the schools get to be the ones to define their ask and then we find as many partners as they need until they're, you know, completely satiated with the, the type of companies, the type of projects. And of course, like we actually help design those projects too. It's really, you know, kind of like a project plan, kind of like a syllabus. That's kind of how project based learning needs to be formatted. So it's a big part of our kind of software plus services model.

Hmm. Talking about the the growth of capsules, so you guys just joined AWS, what's been the benefit or the value of going through a tech accelerators?

It's, it's awesome. I mean, honestly, we as education early stage companies can use as much help as we can get. I'm sporting my AWS ed starred shirt today. I was just at learn launch, which is actually another accelerator based in the Boston area. And AWS actually had a booth and a decent presence there. They just give us so many opportunities to get out there, hone our craft pitch to a room of, of interested folks, whether it's investors or potential partners or potential customers. They're, you know, helping to pay our way to, to go to South by Southwest EDU next month. So we're really grateful to be working with the ed star program among the start ed program. Flip of those around that. It's actually a program through NYU that we got into when we were just getting started.

And you know, the, the organizer over there, Ash Karachi has been a main mentor for me and my team ever since we started the business. So quickly it's, it's, you know, it's again swinging from tree to tree. You know, these folks are y'all a lot of times access and opportunity and mentorship and structure. And the key is to just find, you know, who works best for your industry at your current size and stage. Obviously if you're earlier stage, you know, sometimes it's, you know, more important to go industry-specific and then as you grow it kinda makes more sense to go industry agnostic, you know, for some types of these programs. Most of the programs that we're affiliated with are very heavily education focused. And so therefore it gives us a lot of great feedback about, you know, the progress that we're making, you know, some of the key challenges that we're having and how we're thinking about resolving them from, you know, starting two companies and then going through like accelerators like these.

What lessons would you pass on to other early stage tech founders?

There's so many lessons. I mean, I think the edge, I think I think being an entrepreneur is about like it's like a relentless pursuit of, of of, of continuous evolve, evolving over. That's probably not the best way to say it, but your, your base, you basically have to be relentless about continuously learning and continuously asking for feedback and, you know, being able to accept really tough feedback. I mean, it's so funny what happens when you ask for feedback. People just off the cuff will shoot up when they think and you know, you really have to, in some cases, you know, get ready to take things with a grain of salt. And at other times, like there's been conversations where I've monumentally changed the way that I've been thinking about certain challenges or, or certain strategies that I'm using to grow the business.

So I think the key is, is to ask for a lot of feedback and as to put yourself in a position to grow constantly. It's, it's really tough. I mean, I think the hardest thing about growing a business is actually not about identifying a product, a product market fit. I think it's actually about building a team that's dedicated to serving that product, correct. That market. And so obviously as you grow that product and market evolve and get bigger and more robust and there's more people and more, you know, complex processes that need to be put into place in order to make the business function and deliver on what's promised to customers. And in sometimes investors as well. And so it's just, it's, it's overwhelming because, you know, if you're not relentless about how you're thinking about growing the business and it's always on your mind and you know, you're not, you're asking for all the help that you need and putting yourself in a position to, to find the right resources and grow.

It's really hard to build a successful company. I mean, obviously you're pretty adamant about lifelong learning. You obviously working in the education space. How do you approach learning in your life now? I think learning is a combination of experience and and, and, and, and curiosity. You know, I think, I think if you're curious something, you have to go put yourself in a position to gain experience. And frankly, that doesn't happen without people. And so I learned people. And then when I'm interested, like you mentioned, I love Neil deGrasse Tyson, took one astronomy class in college and thought it was cool. But I never really like thought twice about you know, the universe or how the earth came to be and all that stuff. But as I've become more and more interested, you know, I began to, you know, find more and more content on it and then talk to more and more experts and you, you realize that like that kind of perpetual cycle which by the way includes teaching other people about what you're learning and then you realize when you actually put yourself in a position to teach someone else, it could be even like a friendly conversation over coffee with a buddy.

But you get, you know, they come over and they're like, Hey, I, you know, I watched this really cool documentary where they highlighted that, you know, the density of the universe is more dense than the density of our bodies and the Adam, our bodies are actually, are further apart from each other. Then the actual planets that exists in our universe are closer to each other. And I was like, that's my crazy I'd like to think about. But when you, when you think about it and you've tried to explain it and someone asks you a hard question and you don't know how to answer that, then you know, the impetus to go search for answers is there. And so that's what I think about you know, endless, you know, learning opportunities is, you know, put yourself in a position to learn and to teach. Put yourself in a position to answer questions and be thwarted in my questions and then go figure out the answers to the stuff that interests you. And don't forget that people are a crucial part of this process. There are people that know more and there are people that know less and both of them are required in order to make a productive educational video.

When you were first starting capsource and you're combining this case theory with consulting theory, was there any books, resources, or people that really helped you build the fundamentals of this understanding?

Yeah, I mean I've had a few, few mentors over the years that have come out of like the big consulting firms and have looked at the way that we're mapping things out and have given us a lot of feedback. And I think other than that we've learned a whole lot from from folks that are, are really education theory focused. So really thinking about what is the case method, how does it, how is it actually used in the classroom? What tools and resources are needed in order to make that successful? So those, those are definitely things that we've picked up, you know, over time from continuing to like leverage the right types of mentors. It's actually funny, but like I often look at my own clients as mentors because at the end of the day, they're the ones who are like in the field doing this. And then we're just providing the software and access to that powers their high fidelity, high impact transformative learning programs.

Yeah. And I think that's a beautiful way to look at learning is that no matter who you're working with, whether they're your client or your mentor or you know, just somebody that you met, you can always learn something from them.

Oh, for sure. I mean, every conversation that I start with someone, you know, from the very get go, it's always, you know, first of all, can we learn from each other? And second, like how can we support each other? You know, I don't, I don't think everyone on unfortunately has that mentality. But in order to be an entrepreneur, you gotta look at everything as an opportunity for either growth for you personally or growth for your business. And hopefully they're kind of SIM symbiotic in some way. So that's, that's kind of how I build relationships is, is almost like selfless. First is, Hey, you know, how can I help you? And also vice versa. You know, if we start working together and I'm able to support you, you know, how is that going to actually serve the greater mission that I have?

Hmm. Well, talking about a values, what do you think the value of colleges for helping students to identify who they really are and what their passions are, not necessarily what their parents are. So society has told them.

Yeah. So here's the unfortunate thing about about all of this. So the Pearson just published a recent study that said half of gen Z is like, they thinks they can do without the four year degree, which I think is novel. And, and frankly, I'm, I'm excited that they're like, you know, putting the pressure on, you know, the oldest gen Z is like barely college age if not like, you know, slightly before college age at this point. So so that's really a bold for them to say is like, Hey, we've seen, you know, our, you know, our millennial brothers and sisters struggle, you know, with dead and no outcomes, we're not willing to go. The other side of that coin is employers still use kind of a blanket bachelor's screening as a, as a tool to just get the best talent.

And it's, it's severely unfortunate because like, there's so many jobs that require a bachelor's that actually require a bachelor's degree. And it really, that's what creates a big equity gap in our, in our, you know, in our country and it, and frankly in our world, but especially in the United States is like, you're, you're not letting people access opportunities because they don't have a pedigree. And then, and then ultimately they don't really need it in order to be successful, but like, I can't even get in the door. So I think at the end of the day it's really crucial to, to get a college degree to open up doors. I think that's the key of what I got out of my my experience at Lehigh was an actual you know, set of doors to understand the mechanics of opening the door, understand what to look for, you know, before I enter the room, how to prep.

And also, you know, what to look for when I walked through the, and you know, who I'm trying to meet and how I try to present myself. That's something that I learned throughout the college experience. Do I think it's needed especially to go through that type of thing in college? No. but it is a great kind of foray into the rest of your career. So I would say those are the types of things that I'm ultimately you know, cause it's still consistently pushing people to think about colleges as a really good option for them. But at the end of the day my, my most pointed recommendation is don't go to college if you don't know what you want to study. Figure that out first and second, look on, there's an brand new tool published by the U S government actually called the college scorecard.

Essentially a breakdown of program level outcomes in terms of student debt and starting salaries. And so you can actually look at, you know, the community college in long Island near where I grew up. You know, if you get a nursing degree, you'll, it costs you $12,000 and you can graduate with a $60,000 salary. That makes sense. You know, ROI versus other options like are really not that lucrative. You know, studying political science and history, you know, there are great fields and I think they're super interesting and they'll give you the tools to start to then think about, you know, going into, you know, you know, politics or law school or whatever it is that you're using that as a foray into. But the truth of the matter is if you really want to go into politics, figure out the best route to get there, don't go some other meandering route that's actually not going to serve your, your greater,

You'd mentioned that employers often using like the bachelor's degree kind of have as a blanket way to bring top talent. And what do you think the responsibility is for employers to basically kind of actually vet that process a little more? So jobs that don't necessarily require a bachelor's degree, you know, people have more access to that and then ones that do, you know, it's a little more identifiable.

So I, I went on a hiatus in between real time cases and capsource to spend some time looking at the talent acquisition part of the talent management umbrella of companies out there. It's, it's a robust industry in and of itself. So obviously I kind of look at all of the products that I've been working on throughout my career as a bridge between education and workforce. So slightly about teaching slightly about, you know, access to career and, and training that's needed to like really take the, the business, take the take your career to the next level. And so I learned so much, I mean basically gave myself an internship is kind of how I looked at it, but I learned so much from that experience because I learned that companies really have absolutely no they have really no tools and resources that work well to, to really sift through these massive pile of resumes.

And so what they end up using is these applicant tracking systems and then they just add screening mechanisms and it just blindly eliminates people. But at the end of the day, it's, it's a problem of a mismatch of alignment, of interests. And I still think the best way to get a job is to, to network and to find someone who's at the organization, within the team that you're trying to work with and you know, take them out for coffee, ask questions, you know, figure out if they first of all is a really good fit. If you really do have a good understanding of what's there and then, you know, put your best foot forward and try to leverage them to get that opportunity, you know, solidified. I think that's always going to be the best way. Otherwise, you know, our, our, my model was to try and build a better assessment tools for interviewers, which is the same concept as like case study and consulting project is, okay, let me give, give this person something to work on and say, I'm going to judge you based on the outcomes of this project.

So if it's successful, then we can talk about, you know, giving you, giving you, you an opportunity to, to work with us. But unfortunately, you know, that's another massive thing that then needs to be looked over. I think it does a great job of eliminating people, you know, from the get go. So you give someone a project, you know, that's spot on. Hey, you're going to be a content writer for this type of column. And they put together, you know, a sample assignment and they liked that experience. Then they're a great candidate. If they walk away the minute they see the assignment, they're not a good fit anyway. And so instead of sending a thousand resumes into a black hole, you know, maybe spend, you know, the time on three applications that actually are a good fit for you. But unfortunately because of big data on kind of how the world is working now with like LinkedIn and monster and you know, all these big job platforms where you put something out there, you get 10,000 applicants, it's hard to manage all of this.

So adding screening tools, really just, you know, it was a naturally way of separating people. I've heard recently who have been able to accomplish a hard thing is what is what is what I've heard the college degree equates to. And in the minds of, of HR professionals is like, okay, these, these people, you know, we're figuring out which school they wanted to go to, figured out how to get through the program where there's not necessarily a clear path for everyone and then we're able to finish. It's a really good kind of indicator that they were able to do that. Is that the best indicator? For most jobs, no, but it's theater that they can actually do a job. From finish.

Well, you went to college and then became a serial entrepreneur. How did education serve you as an entrepreneur? And if you could go back in time, would you still go to college or would you just go right into entrepreneurship?

I, I don't think I would have I would have skipped my, you know, my time in school. I think I think it's, you know, it's really interesting, you know, to think about life as a high schooler versus life as a recent college grad. You know, there's no question that I wasn't ready, you know, to, to really embark on an entrepreneurial journey as a, as an 18 year old. I think that there are people that do it. I think it's unfortunate the how it works for most folks, but it's kind of like a Rite of passage. Like you can't even get into the room until you're a certain age and then even if you're in the room, they kind of gave it to you because they just want to see you know, what's this kid and all about. And then, you know, eventually someone gives you, gives you a shot.

You know, it's like, it's amazing sometimes. I, you know, I'm, I can't even believe that we're like shaping MBA graduate programs and I don't have a graduate degree. You know, and so it's, it's really about, you know, about finding the right opportunities. And I think that that really happens the, the most acutely if you're prepared to seize opportunities. And I think that was only possible because of my college experience. It also helped me realize like, I like I can train up in different skills areas, but without actually going out there and trying it, you know, you never really know if it's a good fit. But that's something I recognize, you know, after my college experience. So I think it was, it was a lot of learning, a lot of putting, putting myself in a position of uncomfort to get through and, and persevere. But I wish I'd spend more time being entrepreneurial in school. That's something that I definitely didn't do enough of that I think would've really well-served me throughout the learning process in college.

What are the other point I didn't want to touch on is you had a pretty rich Jewish upbringing and then in 2017 you took a trip to Israel, which kind of opened your eyes to having some real impact. What values from Jewish tradition have shaped your thinking as an entrepreneur?

Wow. That's a good question too. Yeah, I mean, I, I I look at myself as, as kind of a liaison to Judaism for, for both like reform Jews and for, for non Jews, I think that there's not an APL that, that sit there and say, Hey, let's sit down and talk about the values of Judaism and why it's unique. I always well something that resonated with me a ton. As I, as I grew up and I actually grew out of conservative Judaism and I'm, I'm, you know, I'm kind of, you know, in my own world, you know, serving as like our reform Jewish person that is really interested in helping people understand the values of our culture and tradition. And so someone told me that Judaism is a toolbox. It's not a, it's not a cage or a jail.

There's no, there's no, no rules. And, you know, of course there are some people that look at these tools and say, you know, I have to build, you know, this very like, you know, diff, well-defined structure or else it's not, you know, Jewish by definition. And I'm, I'm very much not like that. I, I believe in the values and the culture of Judaism. And so the tools in my toolbox that I, that resonate with me the most are, you know, focused on community and family. And respect for elders I think is a big part of, of the Jewish tradition and culture health and wellness both in what you eat and and what you do with your body and how you, how you, how you use your body as a, as a, as a temple and as a, as a resource to carry your consciousness and to, to spread the, the, the values that you share that you share with the tradition and with your community.

I think education was always a major focus. It started by just actually reading. It was a big, big thing in the very beginning, like, you know, for, for kids at 13 years old and needed to get in front of their whole community and read out loud something which is public speaking, which is, you know, second to death as the most feared thing in the world. And not to mention that, but be able to read and actually read out loud is, is a big part, is a big part of the community. And then I think the, the fourth pillar is about service. It's about giving back. And it's actually a terminology that I've learned over the last couple of years called TikkunOlam, which means repair the world. I think it's very timely considering how much chaos there is out there with climate change and political unrest. And I think at the end of the day, find your passionate Avenue and, and, and try to serve as much as you can because, you know, at the end of the day, if you're not leaving the world better than you found it and everyone is on that same train, then we're, we're pretty screwed as a human race.

Right. you, your company's focused pretty heavily on connecting students to real challenges with real outcomes. What responsibility does colleges have for preparing students for real challenges, not just in businesses, but also those challenges at a global scale that you started mentioning?

Yeah, I mean, so at the end of the day, like how long has the world been a global, you know, ecosystem. I mean, we obviously have been a globe for awhile, a few million years, but the community of homosapiens that live on this planet have not actually been interconnected. Like we are now for very long. You know you know, mass access to flight and, and plane travel is really only, it's less than a hundred years old. You know, you had to, you had to travel on a ship in order to get, you know, from one place to the other and God only knows what that experience was like. So so at the end of the day, I think, you know, w we're starting to get people to think about global challenges and connect with global enterprises. We just connected long Island, no, with a, with a company based in London because they're visiting London and wanted to work on a project.

And so like getting students to understand, not only do they have skills, but they had skills that can serve in a global economy. A business that operates in a completely different commercial environment that, that has similar challenges to the types of challenges that they face on a personal level or their parents face on a, on a, on a professional level or their, their peers and their mentors face throughout their careers. So it, you know, it's very interesting to like, you know, provide access and opportunity and then frankly, you know, the end of the day bring the horse to water. But, you know, you can't, you can't, you gotta let them kind of figure that rest out by themselves. So I, I think for us it's, it's really just about putting people, you know, with a little bit of structure, you know, in the same room and saying, Hey, you know, from here, you know, the keys, you know, the keys to keys to the castle are yours.

You know, you could run away, you could stay, you know, in the, in the foyer the whole time or, you know, you can go exploring and see, you know, the, the majestic notice that is, you know, solving real problems out there for, for real people. And, you know, hopefully that inspires people to, you know, never stop reaching out to solve those types of problems. You know, students realize, I love solving, you know, complex social media ad buying strategies, you know, then they can reach out and start a freelance business that does that for companies. It's such a valuable skill, but until they have to make that decision for one company, they're never going to know that. That's something of interest to them. Just won't ever know what you're interested in until you try it. How do we facilitate these global challenge experience, experiential learning experiences?

I think just being open to it. I think for first being open to doing doing projects that have no right answer. Is this the first, first big hurdle? I think the traditional model of education is that the professor or the teacher has all the information and that it's their, it's their responsibility to share that information and then assess whether or not the students retain that information and can use that information to solve problems. Experiential education is about facilitating the student learning experience and letting them, you know, you know, use the frameworks that you're providing to them or, or using the problem solving tactics that you know, you're recommending, but you're not solving the problem for them. And you may not even have the answer yourself. And so, you know, first, you know, being ready to kind of take a sidecar approach to education and saying, Hey, we're here to support you, but you know, you're in the driver's seat.

You got to figure this out. You know, at the end of the day, I'm just here to support you. That's the kind of learning I think that really needs to happen. And then, you know, as, as you get become more comfortable, like, you know, consulting for the local pizza shop or you know, a company that's an alumni that has lower stakes because they're a big donor and they don't, you know, they're not going to go anywhere whether the student's success succeed or fail. Then you start to begin to understand the value of the model and then that's where you could start thinking about, you know, problems at a global scale.

What do you think the role of education will be in the ever evolving workforce of the future?

Yeah, that's a good question. I think I think people are, you know, there's, there's, there's 20 about 20 million students enrolled in traditional education programs, but 80 million in enrolled in like disparate bootcamps and you know, professional development courses, you know, through LinkedIn, Lynda or you know, or or Khan Academy or you know, all these different online kind of digital credentialing type systems. And it's hard to say. I mean I think there's going to be a lot of growth in, in badging and credentialing and showing that like, I wanted to learn X. And I went to, you know, this provider who teaches X I think is going to be a lot more than like, you know, re-enrolling and some really longer term graduate program to like totally restructure your foundation. Which I think is going to be, you know, still as valuable in the future as it was previously.

But I think there's going to be a lot more like a booster shots if you will, of education. You know, it's three weeks I want to learn X and then maybe the more advanced version of that class that includes a project at the end. And so we're building our, our, you know, our business model to serve, you know, the, the professional and continuing education realm, the high school realm and the college realm. Although at this point, you know, we're mainly focused on, I'm an undergrad and grad programs. Cause you guys got it. You know, as a, as an entrepreneur early stage you have to focus on one audience or else here are kind of burning the candle at both ends.

Hmm. Yeah. Well I like that the booster shot of education. More before I get to my last question, where can everybody find you and everything about gap stores?

Yeah. So our website is capstone source.com. Kind of pulled from the foundation of capstone philosophy of teaching, which is, you know, at the end of your program you get a chance to go apply everything you learned through a project. So we're super grateful to to be coordinating those types of projects for our, our school clients and the network of companies that we reach on a day to day basis. We're really excited to have, you know, reached about 50 schools over the last three years. With the help of about 200 companies several thousand students have benefited from this. And there's really, you know, over a hundred experiential educators that have been part of our, you know, our, our, the delivering of these types of learning experiences. So you can learn about all of their projects actually through and see the types of companies that have participated.

You know, the actual outcomes that the students have generated for those projects all on our website. I'm a big fan of LinkedIn. I've been using it ever since. I was in high school was celebrated 10,000 plus connections, all of which are really helping to kind of build a community around this whole experiential learning model. So feel free to connect with me there. Otherwise, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm pretty available. If you look at our website, there's a place where you can book a meeting directly with me. You can always shoot me an email, my emails, you know, literally throughout the website and on our contact and about page. But other than that, you know, I have a team of 15 folks that are extremely dedicated to seeing experiential learning become not only a viable model, but a scalable model that reaches every student hopefully multiple times throughout their, their learning experience.

Cause I think, you know, one of these can change a student's life, but I saw littering of these can, can change the world.

Wonderful. My last question is, how can we push the world to evolve?

How can we push the world to evolve? I think I think that's a great question. And I love that you asked that because I think the like energy is such an interesting concept because it's like, you know, you wake up in the morning [inaudible] like ready to, to, to seize the day and, and you know, and use the energy that you have and at the end of the day kind of, kind of glasses is running low and you're, you're kind of, you know, settling down a little bit. And so I think it's, it's, it's brilliant to think about like collective energy, right? So like if we put our energy as a, as a world and to solving climate change, we probably would've already done it by now.

You know, I went to a show at the museum of natural history last night. And so they, they basically were telling us, you know, that that everybody knows that global warming is happening, but the issue is getting people on the same page and really putting energy into solving the problem. So I would say that you're changing the world and really move and perpetuating forward is about finding your passion. Identifying what it is that gets you energized and then working with people that are similarly passionate to to help that become a mainstream possibility. I think at the end of the day there's endless amounts of things you can work on. Kind of, you know, tied to experiential learning. You know, if you want to learn more about, you know, data in the world in a world of privacy, there's just an endless amount of people that you can connect with that are in that realm.

And it's an important realm. And I'm not going to sit here and say that, that, that realm of data privacy is more or less important than, you know, climate change. Cause we need people working on both. Right. So I think at the end of the day it's, it's all about like, do the best you can to put yourself in a position to be successful. Find the right types of mentors ask the right types of questions. My old business partner used to say, if you're in the, if you're the smartest guy in the room, you're in the wrong room or you should be teaching it at the very bottom. So I think just continuing you know, to, to open those doors for yourself and put yourself in the rooms even if you feel uncomfortable. And then when you start asking those difficult questions and offering a little bit of of wisdom that you've accumulated you know, accept the feedback, you know, let them ask you, you know, the hard questions in response.

And if you don't know, you know, be candid about it. That's a great question. Like, let me look it up and let's keep in touch about this. It sounds like you're as interested in this as I am. So you know, call it Tikun Olam, recur the world, call it just good business decision making, whatever you want. At the end of the day, you gotta be passionate and you gotta figure out you know what it is that you want to put your energy into. Because you wake up every day with a limited amount whether it's you want to measure it in hours or [inaudible] and, and the amount of time that you're spending on specific tasks. But I think it's, it's really about, you know, focusing yourself on, on what it is that you are energized by and ultimately put your energy there so that you can really make a difference.

Well, that's an excellent answer guys. Definitely go out, find your passion, identify that thing, put yourself in experiences where you can learn to develop that and execute on what you want to change in the world. So thank you Jordan, so much for coming on the show and sharing everything that you had today.

Thank you to brand that I am grateful for the opportunity. I think there's a whole world of, of folks that you're reaching that are, are interested in, you know, getting inspired and making a change in their lives, whether it's becoming an entrepreneur or joining a startup or you know, even joining a nonprofit that like can use a little bit of help and wisdom. And so I'm, I'm excited to, you know, to see, hopefully more momentum, you know, for people out there getting excited to, to make a difference in the areas that mean the most for them.

About The Host

Brandon Stover

Brandon is an entrepreneur, certified professional coach, and podcast host. His aim is to evolve the individual through education, entertainment, and philosophy so together we can ask the world's biggest questions, build businesses to solve them, & live fulfilling lives in the process.

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